Sunderland linked with summer swoop for Belgian striker

Sam Allardyce is busy planning for the summer

Sam Allardyce is busy planning for the summer

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Sunderland have been linked with a summer swoop for Belgian striker Laurent Depoitre.

Despite Sunderland's perilous Premier League position - with the club a point from safety with 12 games remaining - boss Sam Allardyce is still working on a list of summer targets, provided they stay in the top flight.

And Gent striker Depoitre has emerged as a target, with a delegation of scouts sent to watch the 27-year-old in Champions League action against Wolfsburg last week.

Officials at the Belgian side have revealed they are getting several inquiries a week from clubs interested in bringing the striker to the Premier League.

Gent president Ivan de Witte admits he has ambitions of playing in a "bigger championship" and the Premier League would certainly appeal, with a big-money move likely to happen this summer.

"We are getting about two or three [phone calls a week], although this is not direct," said de Witte.

"This is usually going through the media of agencies, and bringing us interest of one or two clubs.

"We are very aware of the fact that there is a lot of interest for Laurent Depoitre.

"So far we have succeeded to keep other players, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to keep Laurent financially.

"But I have a feeling he is also very motivated.

"He is 27 years old and [might want] to take the bigger opportunity to play in a bigger championship."

Several Premier League sides have scouted Depoitre - who has netted 13 goals this season - in recent months, including Aston Villa.

He joined Gent as a free agent in 2014, and has scored 22 goals in 57 Jupiler League matches.

Provided Sunderland maintain their Premier League status, Allardyce will need reinforcements up front with Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher expected to leave when their contracts expire.

Graham is currently on loan at Blackburn Rovers while Fletcher has joined French giants Marseille on loan until the end of the campaign, while striker Dame N'Doye is only on loan at Sunderland and Fabio Borini has been struggling for goals.

Meanwhile, Blackburn Rovers centre-back Shane Duffy has also been linked with a £5million move to Sunderland, who are also reported to be keeping tabs on Bordeaux midfielder Clement Chantome, who is out of contract in the summer.