Jonny Howson linked with Sunderland
Norwich stalwart Jonny Howson has caused consternation in East Anglia by rejecting a new deal with the Canaries.
The 29-year-old midfielder has turned down the offer of a contract extension at Carrow Road and has indicated he is not willing to commit his long-term future to the club. And that has put admirers, including Sunderland, on alert to his availability.
Howson has made over 180 appearances in his five year stint at Norwich. Signed from his home town club Leeds, the versatile central midfielder is an influential figure at Carrow Road.
After failing to bounce back last season at the first attempt since relegation from the Premier League in 2016, Norwich are looking to refresh their squad and will reluctantly listen to offers for Howson this summer.
The Morley-born player has been heavily linked with a return to Elland Road with Middlesbrough and Sunderland also credited with an interest.
A fee of up to £4m - steep perhaps - would be sufficient to land Howson straight in to Sunderland's Championship midfield for next season - one which will bare no resemblance to the line up which has just been relegated from the Premier League.
Fiorentina midfielder linked - again
Slovenian midfielder Josip Iličić has been occasionally linked with a move to Sunderland for about five years. And the 29-year-old has been suggested as a target for the Black Cats again in a fresh volley of transfer gossip in the Italian media this morning.
The attacking midfielder has been with Serie A club Fiorentina since 2013, making over 100 appearances but looks certain to leave this summer as the Florence-based outfit look to reshape their midfield.
Iličić is under contract with La Viola until 2018 and a fee of 5-million-euros may be sufficient to prise him away. Turin and Bologna are also credited with an interest.
The Lens saga - final chapter approaches
Jeremain Lens may well play his final game for Fenerbahçe tomorrow as the Turkish Super Lig concludes this weekend. The Istanbul club close out their season with a home game against bottom side Adanaspor.
After spending all year declaring his love for Fener and deep held desire to remain with the club after his loan spell, Lens looks likely to move to Turkish champions Besiktas or return 'home' to the Netherlands with Feyenoord instead.
That is if either club can agree a fee with Sunderland for Lens' services on a permanent basis. The 29-year-old was signed by Dick Advocaat during his ill-fated spell as manager at the Stadium of Light for a fee worth up to £13m.
Sunderland will do well to recoup half of that with it long suggested that Lens' deal at the club contains a similar reduced-fee-on-relegation clause to that which will allow Fabio Borini to exit for £6m this summer.
One Turkish outlet yesterday claimed that Besiktas will offer Sunderland a mix-and-match choice of right back Andreas Beck (formerly of Bundesliga side Hoffenheim), centre back Alexander Milosevic (Swedish international formerly of AIK) and/or midfielder Gokhan Inler (Swiss international formerly of Udinese and Napoli who had a short spell with Leicester) in exchange for Lens.
End of season financial figures set stark against relegation failure
With the Premier League campaign becoming a mere horrible memory, the post-season round of financial figures relating to prize money and TV income are sufficient to raise a wry smile when you consider the consequence of Sunderland's failure in English football's cash-flooded top tier.
As these figures demonstrate:
Sunderland's £93.5m for finishing LAST in the Premier League is about 5 times the prize cash in Scotland's Premiership. All of it combined. pic.twitter.com/P77puR7vX4— Nick Harris (@sportingintel) June 1, 2017
There's various other comparators which can be applied to Sunderland's near-£100m reward for being the worst side in the Premier League. That figure is more than twice as much as Benfica received for being Portuguese champions and nearly double that which Monaco were awarded for winning Ligue 1 in France.
And when you consider the outlay in wages that achieving rock bottom of the English top-tier required, then Sunderland supporters can perhaps be forgiven for being glad of a break from the richest yet greediest league in world football, as this graphic from this morning's Daily Mail reflects:
Imagine if a team spent less than Sunderland, yet made the Champions League semi-final. pic.twitter.com/bMJn5sDUkm— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) June 2, 2017
Quite ridiculous. And when you consider reports in the local press are today suggesting Sunderland may struggle to pay Aberdeen the £1m compensation they will demand to land the Black Cats' preferred managerial candidate Derek McInnes, you really have to boggle at the scale of financial ineptitude at the Stadium of Light.