KIERAN Richardson is set to leave Sunderland this summer, with Everton leading the chase to secure his services.
Richardson is in the final year of his contract with the Black Cats, and it is telling that neither party has initiated talks over a new deal.
Sources close to the England international claim he is looking for a new challenge after five seasons on Wearside , while Martin O’Neill is keen to move a couple of players on to accommodate his own summer additions.
Richardson’s contractual status means he is particularly vulnerable, with O’Neill reluctant to hand the 27-yearold a new deal on the same lucrative terms he secured when he left Manchester United.
Everton boss David Moyes is a long-standing admirer of the versatile left-sider, who has played at both midfield and full-back during his time at the Stadium of Light.
With Leighton Baines expected to leave Goodison Park this summer, Moyes has lined up Richardson as his preferred replacement.
Sunderland are braced for a formal offer, and will hope to recoup a significant chunk of the £5.5m they shelled out to sign him in July 2007.
Richardson is one of the longest-serving players on the Black Cats’ books, but started just one of the club’s last 11 league games last season.
O’Neill is keen to sign a more natural left-back this summer, having fielded Jack Colback in the role on a number of occasions last term.