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Josh Maja’s Sunderland contract decision imminent - what happens if he decides against signing?

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The deadline for Josh Maja to decide whether or not he’s signing the new contract offered to him by Sunderland is fast approaching - will he do it, and what happens if an agreement can’t be reached?

Blackpool v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It’s just two days until our 15-goal top scorer Josh Maja has to give a decision to the club on whether he’ll sign the contract that they’ve put on the table to him and his representatives. Wearside waits with baited breath.

In the aftermath of the 1-1 home draw with Shrewsbury, Jack Ross said:

With Josh he has been made a final offer if you like, which now has a deadline of the end of this week, prior to the Charlton game (Saturday).

I’ve chatted with him and should he agree that then great, if not then we will have to look at that as a club and the club will decide how to proceed.

With debate surrounding what we should do regarding Maja’s situation, nearly 8000 Sunderland fans - and Ross - watched as he continued to do what he does best, notching the winner in our New Year’s Day victory over Blackpool. Another goal for the youngster left many fans asking the same question - what exactly do we do if Josh Maja’s decides to turn down the offer?

Blackpool v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Josh Maja has been involved in a third of SAFC’s league goals this season.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

With the Lads third in League One, two points behind Luton Town and with two games in hand, things are looking rosy at the Stadium of Light.

That said, it’s slightly worrying that Maja has scored 31.11% of our 45 goals this term - effectively a third of our total - and since he’s just as likely to leave as he is to stay, you start to wonder if that level of quality is almost impossible to replace with our small budget.

Now whilst football isn’t as simple as taking out a player’s contributions and assuming that would have altered the outcome - that would be far to simplistic - it’s evident that we wouldn’t be in the strong position we find ourselves in currently.

Should we somehow lose Maja during January, the immediate worry for Jack Ross would be relatively straightforward - how do we replace him? So much of our game-plan is geared towards making sure the youngster is given chances - and boy does he finish the majority of them. To replace that kind of undeniable quality in front of goal is going to cost Stewart Donald more than we probably have, and could have serious repercussions for our promotion push.

We must be mindful that the fear of him not signing a contract far outweighs the hope he will - that’s just the way human nature seems to work. There’s every chance he will sign a new lucrative deal and fire us to the title and we’ll all be able to drink from the cup of Josh’s goals for many years to come, however, if he does decide against putting pen to paper, what should we do?

Blackpool v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

If the worst case scenario happens, there’s only really two options - sell him for a fair fee so we don’t lose him in the summer when his deal expires, or keep hold of him in the hope he can help us towards promotion, and eventually can be persuaded to put pen to paper. Neither are particularly envious positions to be in.

All of the talk that has surrounded Maja has done nothing to stop him from scoring freely as he has done all season, so if he does decide not to sign a new deal, keep him on Wearside until May and make sure his final act is to get us promoted - surely that’s more important than a measly few million quid? In the long run, a small fee for a man who could be the difference between promotion and not going up doesn’t do anything for the resurrection of Sunderland AFC.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that - Maja is an important player, he’s in a team doing well, he’s scoring regularly and has a manager who knows exactly how to get the best out of him. Fingers crossed, he makes the right decision, signs and we have nothing more to worry about as the January transfer window plays itself out.