Newcastle are closing in on a swoop for Sunderland midfielder Jack Colback, The Journal understands.
The 24-year-old’s contract is poised to run out at the end of June, so despite attempts by Gus Poyet to persuade the player to consider a new deal at the Stadium of Light, he will become a free agent on July 1.
Agreement on a switch from Wearside to Tyneside, however, could happen sooner rather than later, and possibly next week.
Even disregarding ncjMedia’s ongoing ban by United, the club remained tight-lipped about Colback last night.
On a day when the deadline for renewing season tickets was extended until mid-June, even an off-the-record pointer towards imminent transfer business – whether regarding Colback or Tenerife striker Ayoze Perez – might have helped sell more.
But The Journal understands that while Colback is currently abroad on his honeymoon – and that guests at his wedding the weekend before last learned he was leaning towards Newcastle – agreement on a deal could be finalised when he returns next week.
Killingworth-born and a Magpies supporter, the player joined Sunderland’s academy set up aged 10 and made his first-team debut a decade later.
He has since become a steady and versatile favourite among Black Cats fans.
However, with 12 months left on his current contract last summer, Colback was offered new terms by now-departed director of football Roberto De Fanti described by one source close to the talks as “derisory”.
Thereafter, Everton, Swansea City and West Ham United were credited with an interest.
Reports only last week claimed the Hammers were to offer Colback a four-year, £50,000-a-week contract, dwarfing his current wages.
But with his new wife and two young children settled in the North East, the left-footed player appears to be favouring a move that keeps him closer to home. Where that leaves Newcastle’s interest in Montpellier midfielder Remy Cabella remains to be seen, though another mooted target – Marseille’s Dimitri Payet – insists he is happy at his French club.
“I came here to enjoy family, friends and the sun, even if for the moment there isn’t too much,” he said.
“For sure I will be at Marseille next year.”
And contrary to reports, The Journal also understands Newcastle – whose former goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell, released last week, has joined Derby County – have little interest in Leeds United striker Ross McCormack. Meanwhile, former Sunderland winger Kevin Kilbane is unconvinced a permanent move for loan star Fabio Borini would represent value for money to his old club.
He said: “Can (Sunderland) afford another big £10m buy? Does he fit that sort of bill? I would have to say I am uncertain of it. I have my doubts.
“I think it’s a lot of money for him. I think he has had a decent season at Sunderland but they did only just finish outside the bottom three.
“He had a good season, I’m not denying that, but to spend that amount of money is too big an outlay for Sunderland.
“They’d probably think they can spend £5m on one player and then another £5m for someone else, spread the cost around because they don’t have that many funds and the luxury of spending that on a single player, not when it could be a risky move.
“It will be interesting to see how that pans out. I’m not sure if Sunderland are the right fit for that price.”