SUNDERLAND continue to hold discussions with Manchester United over Amad Diallo – but Kristjaan Speakman admits the Black Cats will struggle to secure a loan return for the youngster even if he is allowed to leave Old Trafford this month.

Amad’s future has been the subject of considerable conjecture since he returned to fitness following a knee injury at the end of last year.

The 21-year-old made a handful of appearances for Erik ten Hag’s first team, but has found himself back out of the squad in recent weeks, sparking renewed speculation that he could be made available for loan in the final week of the transfer window.

Amad had a hugely successful loan spell on Wearside last season, and the Black Cats hierarchy have maintained a constant dialogue with their counterparts at Old Trafford over his future.

The forward has suggested that if he moves to a Championship club this month, it will only be to Sunderland, but Speakman accepts there will be competition from other European leagues if Manchester United give the green light to a loan departure.

Sunderland’s sporting director said: “The situation with Amad is really clear. We’ve got a really positive relationship with the boy and his people, we’ve got a really positive relationship with Manchester United and I think everyone was really delighted on all sides with what happened last season.

“Do we think he’s a player that could come and improve our team? Yes. Have we inquired about him? Yes. Have we kept in contact? Of course we have. If we hadn’t kept in contact about him, my head might be on a stake at the beach.


“That’s where it’s at. If that picture changes in any shape or form, then we’ll be on it and we’ll understand where it sits.

“That doesn’t mean that even if he became available we would get him though, because as I’ve said on numerous occasions, I think he’s a tier one player so he’s probably going to be playing in one of the top leagues somewhere.

“He’s a tier one player. I think we’d be lucky if we got him on loan again because of the level he can play at. I know he enjoyed it, and that’s great. How fantastic that we had a top player came to Sunderland and thoroughly enjoyed his time with supporters, staff and team-mates.”

Sunderland are looking to make at least two additions this month, with a left-back and a striker the key priorities, with Speakman revealing there are currently two permanent offers and two loan offers on the table at different clubs.

They could also find themselves fielding inquiries into some of their own leading assets, with the future of Jack Clarke sure to be a hot topic ahead of Thursday night’s deadline.

The Black Cats rejected a series of offers from Burnley for Clarke in the summer, and while Speakman admits he cannot categorically rule out any player leaving this month, he has not received any fresh inquiries over the winger this month.

He said: “ I get the nervousness around selling players, I really do, because there are players there we all love, internally and externally.

“Our ambition is to retain our best players and keep evolving and developing the group. We want to keep performing, try to perform even better, and get to a higher place in the league.

“From that perspective, I don’t see any of those external movements happening. We haven’t had any discussions on any of those things and we haven’t had anything to really overly consider. So it’s business as usual from our perspective.”