Will Defoe re-join the Cherries this summer?
According to former Skysports reporter Graeme Bailey, Eddie Howe's AFC Bournemouth are confident of securing the free transfer signing of Jermain Defoe this summer.
Defoe is seen as a cult hero by the fans at Dean Court, the place where he made his name first in football as a seventeen year old during the 2000-2001 season, scoring 18 goals in 29 appearances.
The England international striker hasn't scored for Sunderland in any of our last eight games and has been accused by some sections of the fanbase for not applying himself to the level that he did earlier in this season, but it's tough to criticise a man who has scored on 14 occasions this season in a team that barely creates any chances.
It has been alleged that Defoe's contract contains a clause which would allow him to leave Sunderland at the end of the season on a free transfer should we be relegated, and with our fate appearing to be inevitable it will have undoubtedly alerted potential suitors to his availability.
Bailey claims that:
... I have been told that Defoe is keen to return to his native South of England and Bournemouth believe they are firm favourites to land him.
Without claiming to have any sort of insider knowledge on the subject myself, I would expect that Bailey's claims are not too far wide of the mark - Defoe has proven that he can still score goals at this level and there will be a whole host of clubs in the Premier League that will be interested in securing his services, particularly on a free transfer.
West Ham seem the most logical move for Defoe as it was the club where he first began, and the Hammers are crying out for striking options beyond the forever-injured Andy Carroll.
Regardless of which clubs are interested, I think that it is safe to say that Defoe will leave this summer, and will do so with the best wishes of every Sunderland supporter that has had the pleasure of watching him play for us for the last two years.
Colin Healy retires from Professional football
Former Republic of Ireland, Celtic and Sunderland midfielder Colin Healy has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 37, eleven years after leaving Wearside following an injury-plagued spell at the club.
Healy was signed by Mick McCarthy on a free transfer from Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic in 2003 and was regarded as a promising young player, but his potential sadly was not fulfilled as his season was curtailed due to a horrific leg break suffered at the hands of Coventry City midfielder Youssef Safri.
Safri - a Moroccan international midfielder - lunged recklessly into a challenge with Healy which saw the young Irishman's lower leg snap completely.
Healy took just under ten months to recover from the break but, soon after returning to training, his leg broke again and he suffered even more heartache through sitting on the sidelines and rehabilitating what turned out to be a career-defining injury.
Healy's contract with Sunderland expired in 2006 and he embarked upon a journey which included stop-offs at clubs such as Livingston, Barnsley, Ipswich Town - where he played for former Sunderland manager Roy Keane - and two spells at Cork City, the second of which lasted around five years before retiring this week from football altogether.
Lens to Napoli?
According to Italian news outlet Il Mattino, Serie A side Napoli have 'enquired' about the possibility of signing Jeremain Lens from Sunderland this summer.
The Italian giants have suffered a fairly uninspiring campaign so far this season and are currently third in Serie A, behind Juventus - who are certain to win the league this year - and Roma, who are just two points ahead with six games left to play.
Jeremain Lens has endured an indifferent time whilst playing under former Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat in Turkey this season but will have done enough to attract attention from other potential suitors.
Advocaat announced that he will retire from football at the end of this season earlier this month, meaning that Fenerbache - under a new manager - may not necessarily wish to pursue Lens further once Advocaat is out of the door.
With Sunderland almost certainly headed for the Championship, Lens is not expected to remain on Wearside next season.
Napoli - and Italian football in general - seems like a good fit for Lens, a player who is perhaps known best for his technical ability but not for his work-rate. Lens was frequently criticised for his application when under the management of Sam Allardyce, something which ultimately led to him losing his place in the team last season.
Sunderland's issue here is perhaps with how we value Lens. He's thirty years old this November and we paid handsomely for him when he was signed from Dynamo Kyiv in July of 2015, and with the Dutchman reportedly on a basic salary of £40,000 a week, it may be difficult for us to find a buyer that will pay close to what we feel he is worth.