Speculation that Chris Coleman’s first signing for Sunderland will be Liverpool youngster Ben Woodburn continues, but as the Black Cats boss hinted at the weekend, a deal does not appear to be imminent.
With precious little cash to spend in the January transfer window, the Black Cats are haggling hard over the deal to bring the Welsh international to the Stadium of Light. But with Sunderland in a weak bargaining position, Liverpool are in no hurry to conclude negotiations.
Indeed, the Reds may be swayed to waive - or reduce - any loan fee, if they can have some other form of asset in return. It wouldn’t be the first time Liverpool have taken a look at the Black Cats academy prospects to see if there’s anything they fancy.
Sunderland have been resolute in recent years at rebuffing advances for youngsters at various age groups within the Wearside youth system but with cash tight and an ongoing battle to avoid a catastrophic drop into League One, a short term-ist survival mode may be set to be switched on.
It is believed Liverpool - and other top clubs - have been monitoring the progress of Sunderland’s England international schoolboy Bali Mumba for some time. The 16-year-old plays in defence or defensive midfield and is considered by some observers to be one of the top left-footed prospects of his age group.
The Anfield outfit are thought to have proposed that Sunderland’s hot prospect be included in the deal for Woodburn but there’s little indication yet of how far this proposal has advanced.
Mumba has been impressing in the U18 Premier League this season and made his debut for the England Under-17s last summer. Stamping his mark in midfield, the Black Cats youngster is attracting plenty of admirers.
The youngster made headlines last year after former Sunderland CEO Margaret Byrne attempted to sign him for her First for Players agency. At the time, the Black Cats were said to be investigating as FA regulations prevent kids under the age of 16 being assigned to agents.
With a local derby in the FA Cup this weekend, Chris Coleman can afford to ring a few changes in his injury-ravaged side - though the options available at his disposal continue to decline by the week.
Landing Woodburn ahead of Sunderland’s next league clash would give everyone associated with the club a huge boost. The Black Cats travel to high-fliers Cardiff City a week on Saturday ahead of a relegation six-pointer against Hull City seven days later.