Sunderland have rejected a £4m bid from West Ham for Connor Wickham.
The Hammers submitted a formal offer for the England Under 21 striker yesterday, as they search for a replacement for former Newcastle United frontman Andy Carroll who has been ruled out for four months with an ankle injury.
But the Black Cats are keen to keep Wickham on Wearside, and have rejected the Londoners’ approach.
Sunderland paid £8m for Wickham when he joined from Ipswich Town three years ago, but he is now in the final year of his contract on Wearside.
Negotiations with the player’s camp have been ongoing all summer, but so far no agreement has been reached.
And, while head coach Gus Poyet wants to keep a player who was one of the heroes of Sunderland’s Great Escape at the end of last season, he has admitted the club would have no option but to sell if Wickham does not commit his future to the Wearsiders.
Poyet said earlier this month: “For me, Connor’s situation is clear. He needs to sign a new contract or we let him go – we sell him. There is nothing in between. He is an asset to the football club and we paid a lot of money for him.
“Last year, he was a key part of us staying up and he was very important. But he needs to realise that the club needs to look after the interests of the football club as well.
“I suppose that, one way or another, we are going to have an agreement.”
Sunderland saw homegrown midfielder Jack Colback leave this summer on a Bosman free transfer to join rivals Newcastle United and Sunderland are desperate to avoid Wickham leaving in similar circumstances.
Wickham’s age means he would not be able to leave for nothing next summer, but Sunderland would only be entitled to a compensation payment which would be only a fraction of his true value.
Wickham made little impact in his first two seasons at Sunderland, but last term he was recalled from a loan spell at Leeds United and scored five goals in six games during the run-in to help the Black Cats retain their Premier League status.