MAGPIE-SLAYER David Vaughan will leave Sunderland this summer after being deemed surplus to requirements at the Stadium of Light.
The Welsh international is about to enter the last year of his contract and the club are looking to cash in on the midfielder rather than risk losing him for nothing when his contract expires at the end of next season, or alternatively offering him a new deal which would take him into his early 30s.
That decision has alerted Crystal Palace, who are ready to give him the chance to stay in the Premier League and earn much more of a first-team role than he enjoyed at Sunderland.
Palace boss Ian Holloway managed Vaughan when they were together at Blackpool and rates the playmaker – who was voted Player of the Season in the Tangerines’ sole Premier League campaign – highly.
When Blackpool were relegated at the end of the 2010-11 season, Holloway stood on the turf at Old Trafford and lamented the fact the best team he had ever assembled would now be broken up and feared that he might never manage again “players of the quality of Charlie Adam and David Vaughan”.
Now, he has the chance to get one of those crown jewels back with Vaughan’s availability.
Newly-promoted Palace have already enquired about Vaughan’s position and registered their interest with the player’s agent.
And although other clubs might look at the situation it would be a major surprise if Vaughan didn’t end up at Selhurst Park next season, providing a fee and personal terms can be agreed.
Holloway will believe that with the acquisition of Vaughan, he has an experienced Premier League player who will genuinely enhance the club’s prospects of survival.
The quiet Welshman was a Steve Bruce signing, joining Sunderland in the summer of 2011 on a free transfer after the midfielder allowed his contract at Bloomfield Road to run down.
The Black Cats were attempting to rebuild after the loss of Darren Bent, Jordan Henderson and then Asamoah Gyan and Vaughan was one of a host of summer signings who struggled to hit the ground running.
He was used sparingly by Bruce before the manager was sacked in December of that year.
But he made an instant impact on the arrival of Martin O’Neill, scoring the first goal of the Northern Irishman spell at Sunderland in the 2-1 home win over Blackburn Rovers – a spectacular long-range effort – which marked the start of the Black Cats’ climb away from the relegation zone.
He became a largely peripheral figure under O’Neill too, although a long-standing groin injury did not help, before returning again to score the goal he will always be most associated with in the minds of Sunderland’s fans – the stunning, clinching third strike in the crushing 3-0 defeat of Newcastle United at St James’s Park in April.
Manager Paolo Di Canio waxed lyrical about the quality of the shot, comparing the technique to his own Goal of the Season finish during his time at West Ham.
Sunderland will hope to get at least £1m for a player who cost them nothing and from a business point of view it is hard to argue with the sale, although many fans are likely to feel a twinge of sadness that a player who gave them such a perfect moment on Tyneside looks soon to be on his way out of Wearside.