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TRANSFER LATEST: Well-liked former Sunderland midfielder could be set for a return to Wearside

Grant Leadbitter is allowed to leave Middlesbrough - and, as we understand it, Sunderland are very interested in bringing him back to the club.

Leeds United v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Roker Report understand that Sunderland youth product Grant Leadbitter is one of the players that the club are chasing ahead of next season - though a deal is not exactly close at this stage.

Leadbitter - who is now 32 - left Sunderland nine years ago when he joined up with Ipswich Town and his former manager on Wearside, Roy Keane, before enjoying a lengthy spell with Middlesbrough.

He’s been made available for transfer by the Teessiders, though, and it’s thought that Sunderland are indeed interested in acquiring his services having been offered the player by Tony Pulis.

Sunderland v Benfica - Amsterdam Tournament Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Going in the opposite direction could possibly be Paddy McNair, who was allowed to speak with Boro earlier this week after a deal of around £5,000,000 plus add-ons was agreed between the two clubs.

That said, Stoke City are very much interested in him - as are a few other Championship sides that were clearly impressed by his form in the latter stages of last season, in which he scored five goals. The Potters are thought to be ready to table a bid which will eclipse the one that Boro have had accepted.

Some sort of deal which would see the two clubs acquire a new midfielder would seem mutually beneficial at this stage, even despite the fact that McNair is clearly our best player.

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

The new owners have spoken about the need to get people on board that care about the club, and you can certainly say that’d be the case with Leadbitter, who grew up as a Sunderland fan and proudly represented us on more than 100 occasions before he eventually left the first time around.

Whilst we are certainly very interested, it was put to us that a completed deal is not close just yet - but it’d certainly seem like the right type of signing for a club like ours if we are going to get out of League One at the first time of asking.

TeamTALK reported three weeks ago that new manager Jack Ross was keen on acquiring the services of Leadbitter, and he’s thought to be an admirer of the abilities of the man who ran the show on two occasions against Sunderland for Boro last season.

We’ll be sure to ask Stewart Donald about the whole Leadbitter and McNair situations tomorrow when we interview him for a special episode of the Roker Rapport Podcast - be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Acast and/or Youtube so that you don’t miss it once it’s released tomorrow afternoon.