PETER Crouch, Roman Pavyluchenko and Charles N’Zogbia will become Sunderland’s top targets – IF Jordan Henderson is sold to Liverpool.
Sunderland remain determined to keep hold of Henderson and will only let the 20-year-old leave the Stadium of Light for a mega-money bid.
Liverpool are yet to make an acceptable offer to the Black Cats and talk of the deal happening before Henderson jets off to the European U21 Championships tomorrow is far too premature.
But Liverpool appear dogged in their determination to land Henderson and showed with their pursuit of Andy Carroll during January that they are prepared to pay huge fees to land the country’s brightest young English talent.
Henderson is unlikely to be able to reject Liverpool’s advances either, with Kenny Dalglish hopeful of securing at least a top four finish next season.
The potential loss of Henderson would represent a significant blow on Wearside, with the England international the star graduate of the club’s academy.
It would also raise questions among supporters of Sunderland’s ambition, coming just six months after the departure of Darren Bent to Aston Villa.
But if Liverpool meet Sunderland’s £20million-plus asking price, it would allow Black Cats boss Steve Bruce to make significant reinforcements to a squad already threadbare due to injuries and the departure of loanees Danny Welbeck, John Mensah and Nedum Onuoha.
Bruce was facing an uncertain budget with a spending spree by no means on the cards.
But £20m would allow him to land top target N’Zogbia plus a proven goalscorer in the mould of Crouch or Pavyluchenko.
Wigan winger N’Zogbia has been on Bruce’s wishlist ever since he arrived at the Stadium of Light two years ago, but Sunderland have baulked at the Latics’ £12m asking price.
Funds from the sale of Henderson would allow Sunderland to land the French winger though and pip rivals Newcastle United to the signature of their former player.
Crouch and Pavyluchenko are also on Bruce’s radar, with Spurs looking to cut costs this summer after their failure to qualify for the Champions League.
Sunderland may be unwilling to pay £10m for 30-year-old Crouch. But the Black Cats held talks with the England hitman two years ago, prior to his move from Portsmouth, and Bruce remains a fan.
Pavyluchenko has had a more chequered time at White Hart Lane, although the 29-year-old has still notched 20 goals in 48 starts for Spurs.
The barrier to either move would be the duo’s wages at Spurs, but Sunderland would hope the prospect of regular first-team football would be a factor in persuading them to move to the North East.
Sunderland continue to be linked with Manchester United pair Wes Brown and Darren Gibson too, while the Black Cats are intent on landing out-of-contract duo Seb Larsson and Keiren Westwood.
H Sunderland duo Asamoah Gyan and Cristian Riveros will be in action for their countries tonight.
Gyan will line up for Ghana against South Korea while Riveros is set to start for Paraguay against Bolivia.