If all reports are true then fellow Championship team Southampton are taking a serious interest in luring our own talisman Ross Stewart to the south coast before the transfer window shuts tomorrow. It has been reported that the Saints made an initial £5 million bid which was rejected, and have since followed up with an increased bid which with add-ons would go some way to a £10 million valuation made on the player by Sunderland.
Ross Stewart - for those unaware of his contract saga - has shown no inclination to sign a new deal with Sunderland for the past year and is now in the last year of his present agreement, after which he can leave for nothing next summer.
When the question was thrown a few months ago to the Roker Report writers for a roundtable article of what the club should do about the contract stalemate, my answer was to give him a month to sign then if he hadn’t - sell him.
My answer at that time was on the assumption that we would have signed up adequate replacement(s) over the close season and summer months.
Now with the last day of the transfer window upon us, at the time of writing, we still haven’t, and Southampton having their bid accepted as I write.
The valuation put on him by Sunderland is I feel an indication of a figure as much we could ask for if we want to cash in on a player now who would leave for nothing next summer.
If our board asked for £20 million as some fans think he is worth then there would unlikely to have been any takers. If there was, Sunderland AFC could say ‘Thank you very much!’, but by accepting the figure put forward our owners clearly feel that they would rather cash in on a high value player rather than receive no fee at all when he leaves.
But a £20 million valuation would have likely ensured that Ross Stewart stayed and the team benefited from his play and goals when he returned from injury at least up until the next transfer window. Although he hadn’t signed a contract, and was reportedly open to a move, he hadn’t put any transfer request in and demanded a move away.
This is a gamble at such a late stage of the transfer window. Even this afternoon Tony Mowbray was quoted as saying ‘Stewart should only leave if a replacement was already signed’ to which he probably now wishes he added ‘ Shouldn’t he?’ The gamble is that we could end up going to the next transfer window without an adequate replacement for him - someone who can lead the line, fit in with the team style of play and score goals regularly.
It's a tall order to ask anyone to come in and hit the ground running.
Such has been the fast development in this long running saga that when I started writing this article, no bid had been accepted by Sunderland. A break for dinner and when I returned it seemed that he is pretty much on his way.
Who knows, in the morning I could be looking at a picture of our new centre forward brandishing a scarf at the Academy, such is the nature of trying to comment on the last days of a transfer window.
I’m glad I have a day job.