ALEX PRITCHARD is close to completing a permanent move to Birmingham City, but Sunderland remain determined to hold on to Jack Clarke this month despite ongoing interest from Lazio.

Pritchard is set to sign a two-and-a-half year deal at St Andrew’s after refusing to sign the contract extension he was offered at the Stadium of Light last week.

The 30-year-old has entered the final six months of his current deal on Wearside, and informed club officials that he did not want to be considered for Saturday’s home game with Stoke City.

Sunderland were willing to listen to offers for the midfielder in the summer despite him having been a key performer in the League One promotion season and the following campaign, which saw the Black Cats make the Championship play-offs.

The club’s willingness to move Pritchard on was a major factor in the deterioration of the relationship between player and club, which has come to a head this month.

Former Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray maintained a strong personal relationship with Pritchard, though, and has been keen to take the playmaker to the West Midlands this month.

That now appears likely to happen, with talks between senior officials at Birmingham and Sunderland understood to be close to delivering a financial agreement that would be acceptable to all parties.


Birmingham are set to pay a six-figure fee for Pritchard, who joined Sunderland from Huddersfield Town in the summer of 2021.

While Sunderland’s executive team are willing to lose Pritchard this month, they are much keener to hold on to Clarke.

The winger, who has been the Black Cats’ talisman this season, with 13 Championship goals, has been the subject of two offers from Serie A side Lazio.

However, neither was a significant improvement on the bids that Sunderland turned down from Burnley in the summer, and therefore they have also been rejected.

With Clarke still having two-and-a-half years of his current deal to run, the Black Cats are in a strong negotiating position, and will also be mindful that Tottenham inserted a 25 per cent sell-on clause into the deal that took the 23-year-old to the Stadium of Light.

Lazio will continue to monitor the situation, but the fact they have now entered into discussions with Plymouth Argyle over Morgan Whittaker suggests they have accepted it will be extremely difficult to prise Clarke from the Black Cats ahead of Thursday night’s transfer deadline.

Unlike with the Pritchard situation, Sunderland are confident Clarke will not agitate for a move this month despite also having been heavily linked with West Ham United and Brentford.