Sunderland have little hope of truly competing with local rivals Newcastle United for the signing of Dion Sanderson, Black Cats great Kevin Phillips has admitted.
According to The Athletic, Newcastle have already seen a £1million bid turned down for the Wolves centre-back, who spent last season on loan at the Stadium of Light.
The Magpies’ bid was described as ‘speculative’ and is thought to be well below Wolves’ valuation.
The Midlands outfit are hopeful of extending his contract, but Sanderson has turned down their most recent offer.
Sanderson was Sunderland’s young player of the season in 2020/21 despite only starting 19 League One games.
He averaged 2.3 successful aerial duels, 2.7 clearances, one tackle and 0.9 interceptions per 90 minutes (via WhoScored).
Football Insider claim Sunderland, losing play-off semifinalists, also failed with a £1million attempt to sign Sanderson permanently last month.
With the two clubs battling for his signature, Phillips fears that the allure of the Premier League will inevitably sway Sanderson towards the Magpies.
That, he says, would be particularly tough for supporters to take.
But he did note that Sunderland could offer the 21-year-old a guaranteed starting place and added incentives such as tshe captaincy.
“It would be a big, big blow to lose him to Newcastle,” Phillips told Football Insider.
“If Newcastle make a concrete move there is not much competition, as much as I hate to say it.
“They are in the Premier League and it is as simple as that. Any young kid wants to play in the Premier League.
“It would take a huge effort to persuade Sanderson to join if Newcastle matched their offer.
“The only guarantee Lee Johnson can give him is that he is going to play week in, week out.
“Perhaps they could offer him the captain’s armband next season, who knows. Something like that could stop him joining Newcastle.”
The Athletic’s report reveals that Newcastle view Sanderson as very much a long-term option, and that he could be sent straight out on loan if he does sign.
You’d think that any loan move would be to the Championship, the natural step-up after his dominant performances in League One.
Sunderland’s only hope, then, would appear to be sentimentality – Sanderson rejecting Newcastle out of gratitude to Sunderland.
But surely supporters could forgive him for instead doing what’s best for his own career.
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience