Middlesbrough land midfielder as Sunderland close in on Grant Leadbitter
Middlesbrough have signed John Obi Mikel in a deal that is likely to pave the way for Grant Leadbitter's Sunderland return.
Tony Pulis, who already has an abundance of midfield options, has moved to sign the former Chelsea midfielder on a free transfer.
That pushes Leadbitter, who has made eight appearances this season, further down the pecking order.
The 33-year-old had been minded to stay on Teesside regardless, rebuffing approaches from the Championship earlier in the January window.
However interest from Sunderland has changed the picture and he now looks set to rejoin his boyhood club.
He made over 100 appearances in six years for the Black Cats before leaving for Ipswich Town.
A deal could be sealed by the weekend.