Peterborough United owner Darragh MacAnthony has ruled out a move for versatile defender Luke O’Nien, who has officially left League One side Sunderland on the expiry of his contract.
The Posh reportedly held talks with the Englishman about a possible move to the Championship according to the Peterborough Telegraph – but he now seems to have been second choice with Leicester City’s Josh Knight joining the second-tier side this afternoon.
Manager Darren Ferguson was thought to be impressed by O’Nien’s ability to play across the backline and in central midfield, but this wasn’t enough for the Scotsman who was eager to get the Knight deal over the line – and this move has probably put the final nail in the coffin for any pursuit of the 26-year-old.
Quiz: What was the score the last time Sunderland played each of these 25 teams?
This is a welcome boost for Lee Johnson and the Black Cats who are still hopeful of tying one of their prized assets down to a new deal despite O’Nien officially becoming a free agent.
He is one of three key players to have left the Stadium of Light in the last day or two, with Charlie Wyke and Denver Hume following him out the Wearside club and the former currently in talks with Scottish side Celtic.
Responding on Twitter to a question this afternoon about whether O’Nien would be arriving at London Road, Posh owner Darragh MacAnthony was firm in his answer and said (Warning: contains strong language): “Absolutely no pal. Firm No.”
O’Nien is more likely to stay at the Stadium of Light than Wyke at this stage – but there’s obvious concern that he hasn’t signed a new deal yet and could wait for other clubs to come in before making his final decision.
The fact McAnthony tweeted this after Knight’s announcement could suggest O’Nien was indeed a plan B option for Peterborough if the deal for Knight fell through.
With many players in the Premier League and Championship competing in the Euros, clubs in the top two tiers have been reluctant to let their players go, so it’s no surprise to see this contingency plan being put together in the event Leicester pulled out of the deal.
Taking the Foxes as an example, goalkeeper Daniel Iverson hasn’t returned to Preston North End on loan yet because their stoppers Kasper Schmeichel and Danny Ward were with Denmark and Wales.
Coming back to O’Nien, he still would have been a versatile and solid signing for Peterborough and the chance of playing in the Championship would have been hard to turn down – but it’s a target they may want to return to if really needed and the 26-year-old still doesn’t have a club at that point.