SUNDERLAND have refused to be drawn into a bidding war for Robert Snodgrass after Norwich City accepted Hull City’s £7m offer for the midfielder.
Having had an initial bid of £6m rejected at the start of the week, Hull boss Steve Bruce tabled an improved deal, which could potentially rise as high as £8m, yesterday.
Norwich officials accepted the offer, but with Snodgrass still to agree personal terms at the KC Stadium, there is still time for other clubs to match Hull’s financial package.
However, Sunderland officials will not be returning to the negotiating table as they believe a fee in excess of £7m does not represent good value for a player who cost just £3m when Norwich signed him from Leeds United two years ago, and who would have been about to enter the final year of his contract at Carrow Road.
While Black Cats boss Gustavo Poyet helped identify Snodgrass as an ideal replacement for Jack Colback, who turned down the offer of a new deal at the Stadium of Light in order to join Newcastle, there is shared determination among the Sunderland hierarchy not to pay over the odds for players, as happened on a number of occasions under Roberto de Fanti last summer.
Had Snodgrass been available for around £5m, a deal might have been considered. As it was, though, Hull’s willingness to pay a much higher fee became clear at any early stage of negotiations.
With Jake Livermore already having joined Hull for £8m earlier this week, the Tigers have now splashed out around £15m on two players who can be hardly be considered among the upper echelon of midfielders in the Premier League.
The scale of the sums involved in the transfers confirms the continued existence of a significant premium when it comes to signing British-based players, and helps explain why both Sunderland and Newcastle have tended to look abroad in recent transfer windows.
Poyet would ideally like to sign some players with Premier League experience this summer, but if the Black Cats are quoted similar prices to the one that drove them away from Snodgrass, they will happily turn their attention back to the continent, where they have continued to scout players despite last season’s changes in backroom structure.
As well as looking to recruit at least one new midfielder to supplement Jordi Gomez, who has already arrived as a free agent, Sunderland are also hoping to sign a centre-forward this summer.
Fabio Borini is their preferred option, and Black Cats officials have been in contact with their counterparts at Anfield to discuss a potential £8m deal, with could include another £2m of add-ons.
At this stage, no formal bid has been tabled, and the talks took place before FIFA’s decision to ban Luis Suarez from all football-related activity for four months.
With Suarez due to be absent for the first two-and-a-half months of the Premier League season, it remains to be seen if Brendan Rodgers now opts to retain Borini at Anfield.
Liverpool have been pursuing a number of attacking midfield targets recently – most notably Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri – but with Suarez out of the equation, Borini could find himself catapulted up the pecking order having returned to Merseyside following last season’s loan deal at Sunderland.
Meanwhile, Sunderland have signed a new six-year kit deal with Adidas that will see the sportswear company continue to produce the club’s playing and training kit until 2020.