Somerset Live have reported that Sunderland have intensified their approach for forward Max Gradel, of Premier League outfit Bournemouth.
The Black Cats hope to secure the Ivorian’s signature ahead of opening their Championship season on Friday night with a home match against Derby County, following their dismal relegation from the top flight last season under David Moyes.
Following the Cherries’ promotion to the Premier League at the end of the 2014-15 season, highly-rated Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe splashed £8.5m on the former Leeds winger but injuries and new arrivals have seen Gradel slip down the pecking order at the Vitality Stadium and while Howe claims that the 29-year-old is still part of his plans for next season, Sunderland boss Simon Grayson holds out hope of engineering a deal for the speedy forward.
Grayson is still looking to apply surgery to a frontline that was desperately devoid of creativity in the top flight and is still suffering from the loss of last season’s top scorer Jermain Defoe.
Forward players James Vaughan, Lewis Grabban and Aiden McGeady have all arrived at the Stadium of Light, but Grayson still clearly feels that his side lack attacking impetus – hence he is stepping up his bid for Gradel.
Grayson reportedly faces stiff competition from Scottish Champions Celtic, who beat the Black Cats 5-0 at the weekend, which won’t exactly help the former Preston manager’s cause if it comes down to a straight fight between the pair.
Gradel would be a brilliant signing for Sunderland, if he can stay fit. He is a pacey, creative and versatile forward with vast experience in the second tier and a point to prove after a prolonged spell on the fringes at Bournemouth.
However, there are obstacles to any potential move. One is that Bournemouth, like all the now flush Premier League clubs, are in such a strong financial position that they do not need to sell, certainly not if Howe insists Gradel is part of his plans, nor at a cut price.
Sunderland’s summer business has largely been done on the cheap and it remains to be seen if they will pay out more to get their men. Further, if Gradel was watching Saturday’s match at the Stadium of Light, there is only one club he will choose and they play their football north of the border.
Sunderland fans – what do you think? Would you like to see Gradel in the red and white? Let us know below…