Striker ends Sunderland career with Blackburn move

Danny Graham

Danny Graham

18
Have your say

Blackburn Rovers-bound Danny Graham will be the next Sunderland player to follow Costel Pantilimon out the exit door.

The Romanian stopper has joined Premier League rivals Watford on a three-and-a-half-year deal for an undisclosed fee.

Sam Allardyce needs to free up wages with Sunderland on the brink of the financial fair play regulation limits.

And 30-year-old Graham is set to join Blackburn Rovers in the next 24-hours on a loan deal until the end of the season, signalling the end of his Sunderland career.

The striker is out of contract in the summer and the Championship side will pay half of his wages as part of the deal.

In order to further bolster his squad, Sam Allardyce needs to free up wages with Sunderland on the brink of the financial fair play regulation limits.

Pantilimon, who had made 49 appearances, is the biggest name to depart.

The 6ft 8ins international, who was also subject of interest from Spanish side Espanyol, joined Sunderland in July 2014 after a three-year spell at Manchester City.

He started the majority of games last season and was No 1 this year before losing his place to Vito Mannone at the Etihad on Boxing Day.

Pantilimon, 28, fell further down the pecking order after Jordan Pickford was recalled from his loan spell at Preston North End, with the England Under-21 international making his Premier League debut at Spurs.

With Pantilimon on around double Mannone’s wages, Allardyce has moved to remove the higher earner from the wage bill.

He is set to be in the Watford squad to face Newcastle United this weekend.

A club statement read: “Sunderland AFC would like to thank Costel and wish him the very best for the future at his new club.”

And Graham is set to follow him out the club, despite Rovers boss Paul Lambert remaining tight-lipped about the move.

Graham started the 4-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane but is surplus to requirements.

Lambert said: “Names are getting bandied about but while it’s probably boring for you to write and listen to, we can’t talk about anybody’s players until they come through the door.

“We’ll try and get one or two guys in to help us.”

Championship rivals Wolves have also made an enquiry about Graham.

As well as fringe players Valentin Roberge and Charis Mavrias, Sunderland are also looking to move on midfielder Jordi Gomez.

The Spaniard was a regular under both Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat after arriving on a free transfer from Wigan 18 months ago.

But Gomez’s only appearance in the last two months was in Boxing Days defeat at Manchester City and he hasn’t even been on the bench since then.

One player unlikely to be joining is Marseille’s 32-year-old midfielder Alaixys Romao.

The Togo international, being tracked by Toulouse and Al-Alhi, is out of contract in the summer and was reported to be the subject of a Sunderland bid worth £1.5million.

But his agent, Mark McKay, said: “It’s not correct that Sunderland have made an approach.

“There is interest in him and he would like to play in England but it is up to Marseille what happens this month.”