Hamburger SV 'Want Kirchhoff'
Bundesliga side Hamburger SV are said to be monitoring Sunderland's defender-turned-midfielder, Jan Kirchhoff.
According to a report in Germany which features on the website of TV channel, Sport1, the relegation-threatened Hamburg club are desperate to tighten up their defence and have identified the 26-year-old as a target to enable them to fix a leaky back-line which has conceded 27 goals in 14 matches this season.
Kirchhoff was signed by former Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce in January and was a huge success despite enduring one of the worst introductions to the Premier League in its history. The 6ft 5in Frankfurt-born player was brought on from the bench at Tottenham in January to shore up Big Sam's side as they aimed to hang on to a 1-1 scoreline for a point.
Instead, Kirchhoff was directly responsible for two goals after coming on in the 59th minute as Spurs romped home 4-1 winners. The German made a pathetic attempt at blocking a Christian Eriksen goal and gave away a penalty - bringing down Danny Rose in the box- to earn Europe-wide headlines for his 'debut from hell'.
But from then on, Allardyce shifted the former German Under-21 international into a deep-lying anchor-man position. And in the final months of last season, Jan Kirchhoff produced a master class in how to play the holding midfield role - patrolling in front of the back four, oozing a class not regularly seen at the Stadium of Light. Supremely timed tackling and a deftness of sharp passing earned the former Bayern Munich man the PFA Fan's Player of the Month for April.
But, this season has been a frustrating affair for the big German. In a career hampered by injuries, his progress has stalled again this campaign, missing nine games with a recurring hamstring problem. And if he looked like he was ready to return to his best in the victory against Leicester City two weeks ago, Kirchhoff really struggled to keep pace with the game against Chelsea on Wednesday night before being withdrawn on the 57 minute mark.
There have been some suggestions that Jan Kirchhoff had been ill earlier this week, not fully recovered from a bug which has spread around the squad - notably also knocking out his fellow midfield utility man Jason Denayer a few weeks ago.
But, surely it would be unthinkable for David Moyes to be tempted by any offer for Jan Kirchhoff, either in the January window.
That said, the player's contract runs out at the end of June. Allardyce had planned to sit down with Kirchhoff and his representatives to thrash out a new deal before he departed for England.
But since then, David Moyes has said he does not intend discussing any contracts with his personnel until Sunderland are assured of Premier League survival or the worst happens and the club is relegated. That leaves Jan Kirchhoff in a potential no-mans land as the season progresses as to his future.
Either way, the 'bargain' fee of £750,000 that Big Sam paid to bring the silky German to the Premier League has been put into context somewhat by his continued injury problems and understated showings when fit this season.
And One More Thing - Sebastian Coates' Red Boot Contract Clause
Most of us are familiar with Stefan Schwarz's contract clause when he was at Sunderland which prevented him from going into space. But, when Sebastian Coates signed his loan deal from Sunderland to Sporting CP he agreed to never wear red or blue boots in Portugal.
The Lisbon club's main city rivals are the red-shirted Benfica and the blue-clad Belenenses. Might that explain Coates taking exception to Gareth Bale in recent Champions League ties (see below)? The defender was responsible for the Madrid mega-star having to leave the field of play through injury in successive ties between Sporting and Real.
Anyone think we should ban all black-and-white boots?