Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has made it known his priority this summer is to strengthen his attacking options - and it appears the player he has settled on to fulfil that role is Wolves striker Steven Fletcher.
The former Scotland international, who refuses to represent his country at present due to a row with Craig Levein, has been a huge hit since arriving at Molineux in 2010, scoring 22 goals in 41 Premier League starts including 12 in 26 last season.
However, his future has been unclear following Wolves’ relegation and the intensity of Sunderland’s interest, which is thought to stretch so far that they would be willing to pay £10 million for the 25-year-old, is likely to prompt a move.
It is an enormous sum to contemplate spending on a Championship player but Wolves invested £7million after Burnley went down and as his stock has risen since and he is arguably their star man, they perhaps justifiably expect to make a profit.
Sunderland’s desire to improve up front is primarily due to the end of Nicklas Bendtner’s loan spell but also because Asamoah Gyan was allowed to join UAE club Al Ain on a permanent basis following a successful season-long loan.
O’Neill said last week: “What I’m looking to do is bring in attacking players who have quality and more experience than we have now because, when you look at our squad in terms of attackers, we are short on experience and it’s something we need to try to address.”
The likes of Emile Heskey and Kevin Davies have also been suggested as targets yet Fletcher is a more consistent scorer and although perhaps not as bulky as the 30-something pair, has a knack of regularly popping up with headed goals.
His departure could have a major impact on Wolves’ promotion chances too, whereas currently they are the 5/2 third favourites with Ladbrokes
to go up.