WEST Ham have dramatically upped the ante in the race for Jack Colback’s signature with a ‘treble your money’ offer to the out-of-contract Sunderland midfielder.
And that mega money deal is all but certain to scupper both Sunderland and Newcastle United’s hopes of keeping the player in the North East.
The Hammers, who have released a brace of midfielders this summer – former England midfielder Joe Cole, now 32, and Welsh international Jack Collison whose career has bombed in recent seasons – and are on the look-out for new blood.
And West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has identified Sunderland’s Academy product Colback as the best value of the Bosman midfielders around.
A wage offer in the region of £50,000 a week is seen as economically justifiable by the Hammers for a player who would have been rated in the £3m to £4m bracket had he been under contract, and who was on Everton’s radar last season.
And that ambitious offer will blow Sunderland and Newcastle out of the water with neither club prepared to go anywhere near that figure for the player.
Sunderland had substantially improved the offer originally made to Killingworth-born Colback last summer by former director of football Roberto De Fanti as the midfielder approached the last year of his contract.
But the offer tabled by the Italian was derisory in footballing terms.
And how costly a mistake that has proven to be is about to illustrated by the 24-year-old’s departure from the Stadium of Light for nothing.
Newcastle have been monitoring Colback’s situation closely but have yet to make an offer and are not expected to do so now in light of the West Ham development.
The only hope of Colback staying in the North East is if the player himself and his young family decide to stay in the region.
Newly married Colback was believed to have preferred to remain in the North East.
But it is hard to see how he can turn down an offer as lucrative to him as West Ham are now prepared to make.
And that will mean Sunderland’s rebuilding job will be a little bit bigger with the loss of a third of the midfield triumvirate – Lee Cattermole and Seb Larsson the others – who proved absolutely pivotal in securing the club’s Great Escape in the dying weeks of last season.