SUNDERLAND will not stand in the way of Kieran Richardson’s desire to leave the Stadium of Light this summer.
The 27-year-old, about to enter the last year of of his contract, indicated to the club earlier this year that he wanted to move on.
And the Black Cats are willing to grant his wish, as they look to recoup some of the £5.5million Roy Keane paid Manchester United for his services in 2007.
Everton are the latest club to signal an interest in the utility player.
David Moyes can offer him a place at one of the most established clubs in the Premier League, one that finished last season with a surge into seventh place and one that looks as though it could be going places again, despite tight financial controls.
But there are no shortage of suitors for Richardson’s signature, with Arsenal, Fulham and the club where his career first began, newly-promoted West Ham, also linked.
The London clubs look to be in pole position, with Richardson believed to favour a move back to the city of his birth.
But he is unlikely to rush to leave in the next few weeks, preferring instead to enjoy his holiday and return to see what the offers are.
Sunderland are relaxed about the player’s impending departure, knowing that if he leaves over the next few months they will get a fee of between £2-3m for a player who could leave for nothing the following summer.
That money would go towards swelling Martin O’Neill’s war-chest as the Sunderland looks to bring in the players who will prevent next season beginning with the sort of poor results that ended the one just gone.
O’Neill is a big admirer of the job Moyes has done at Goodison Park over the last decade and also of the quality of squad he has assembled.
And if Richardson does decide he wants to join Everton this summer, the Black Cats’ boss may well look at a possible player exchange as well as a straightforward cash transfer.
* Arsenal will release seven fringe players at the end of their contracts on June 30, including goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and defender Gavin Hoyte.
Newly-promoted West Ham have been linked with a move for Almunia, who spent a brief loan spell at Upton Park last season.
* Midfielder Owen Hargreaves has been released by Manchester City after his short-term deal expired.