DANNY GRAHAM looks set to be back at Sunderland for pre-season training unless an agreement can be reached over the remaining two years of his contract.
Graham’s sizeable weekly wage at the Stadium of Light can only be matched by Premier League clubs and a handful of Championship teams, so the options for Sunderland to sell are limited.
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Otherwise Sunderland will rely on a fee being agreed for a player who cost £5m in January last year and then Graham entering in to negotiations over a contract at new employers, which could mean a pay cut.
After struggling to make an impact at Sunderland and Hull City, where he was on loan in the first half of last season, after leaving Swansea City 17 months ago, opportunities to move to another Premier League club are likely to be few and far between.
There has previously been interest in him from Norwich City and Cardiff City, so they could still make fresh inquiries for his services following relegation to the Championship. Financially, those two clubs, along with Fulham, would have more power in the second tier than any of the others.
Middlesbrough would be interested in having Graham back at the Riverside again and the player would be interested in discussing a return.
But Boro’s move for Bournemouth’s Lewis Grabban, rated in the £3m bracket, suggests they are having to consider all options in case a deal cannot be done to take the former academy graduate back to Teesside for a third time.
Graham signed off from his spell at Middlesbrough with six goals from 18 appearances and received praise from manager Aitor Karanka after his last appearance.
Karanka said: “Could I see Danny being back here next season? Possibly, yes. He came here without playing a lot of games, but I think he played all of the games for us. His performance was very good, his contribution was very good. He could be an important player for the future.”
But as Middlesbrough battle to adhere to the Football League’s Financial Fair Play rules, it would be highly unlikely that Sunderland’s North-East neighbours would agree to match the weekly pay packet Graham receives up the A19 – although they are looking to offload Marvin Emnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz to free up more funds.