SUNDERLAND have been linked with a sensational move for former striker Jermain Defoe who has been released by Scottish Premiership side Rangers.

Following discussions between the player and the Scottish Champions hierarchy, Defoe’s contract was mutually terminated at Ibrox on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old featured 93 times for the Black Cats after making the switch from Toronto FC in 2015 and scored 37 goals.

The move would go down well with the Sunderland faithful as they look to continue their push for League One promotion this season. Ross Stewart is the club’s senior striker in the squad following the injury of Nathan Broadhead, who is out for the next few months with a hamstring injury. Aiden O’Brien can play as a striker but has had his injury concerns this season.

Defoe has spoken of his desire to play in front of fans this season and be part of a successful side before he switches his attentions to his coaching aspirations. With the Black Cats, both those boxes can be ticked as Defoe searches for a new club as a free agent.

Speaking to TalkSport, Defoe revealed that it was a frank discussion with Rangers manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst that led to his exit from Ibrox.

Defoe said: "It was an honest conversation with the manager, which was like ‘do you want to play or do you want to coach?’

“Everyone has got different ideas, I think he looked at it, coming from a different culture, he probably thought what do you want to do?

“I said ‘gaffer I want to play’. That was the plan from the beginning, to play but also at the same time, to have a little help with my coaching badges.

“I said to him (von Bronckhorst), I finished the season strong when we won the league, I feel sharp, he said ‘I saw that’, so for me I just want to play football.

“I did a full pre-season. I was ready to play. To be honest, I want to play in front the fans and have another successful year at the end of the season would see what happened, with me stopping playing, or moving on then becoming a full time coach.

“I’m all or nothing. I can never be 50 per cent doing this. I have always been 100 per cent. So for me, of course it was difficult trying to do both.”

For Defoe, he’s netted over 300 times over the course of his 23 year career in football.

As things stand for Sunderland, they have made just the one addition to the squad during the January transfer window. Northern Irish defender Trai Hume has signed for an undisclosed fee from Linfield but is yet to make a first-team appearance this season.