Exactly where things stand with Sunderland and Charlie Wyke amid fresh Celtic and Nottingham Forest links
Charlie Wyke’s future has once again been under the microscope in recent days, with the Sunderland striker still in talks with the club over his future.
Wyke’s contract is set to expire on June 30, and a positive resolution has yet to be reached on Wearside.
And with fresh links circulating in recent days, where do things stand at present? We take a look:
Where do things stand with Charlie Wyke and his Sunderland contract talks?
Wyke is one of four players still in talks with Sunderland over extending his stay at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats are keen to retain the services of their top scorer following his successful 2021/22 season and the terms on offer will likely reflect the importance of his goals last season.
But as with Aiden McGeady, Luke O’Nien and Denver Hume, there will undoubtedly be admiring glances being cast at Wyke.
Any striker who scores 31 goals in League One will be drawing interest from the level above, and a number of sides will have cast their eye over the former Bradford City striker ahead of the summer window.
What do we know about the outside interest in the striker?
A host of sides have been linked with Wyke – including Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough and Scottish giants Celtic.
It’s understood that some of the sides who have been linked with Wyke are not actively pursuing a move at this moment in time.
However, it’s clear that he is a man with options. While Sunderland will no doubt be a consideration for the frontman, he will also have some other contract offers to weigh-up.
At the moment, though, no conclusive decision has been made on the striker’s future.
What has Lee Johnson said about Charlie Wyke’s future?
Johnson has made no secret of his desire to keep Wyke on Wearside, having been impressed with the striker’s contribution during his early months in charge.
Speaking in April, the head coach said: “As far as I'm concerned, I'm maintaining the player-coach relationship - that's the key.
"Of course I would love to work with Charlie next season. Whether that is possible or not, I haven't got all the answers.
"What Charlie has is hopefully a good coach who trusts him, who believes in him, and who - along with the coaching staff and his teammates - has helped him get into a position where he is currently the second-top scorer in the league who has scored a number of goals and a number of different types of goals.
"He has improved as a player over the course of this season, there's no doubt about that, and he is grateful for that.
"Hopefully that will stand us in good stead when the club is ready to challenge for his contractual situation."
How will Sunderland go about replacing Wyke if he does depart?
As part of Sunderland’s new data-led approach to recruitment, player profiles have been established for each area of the field – corresponding to the club’s new game model and their approach to playing.
This means that should Wyke depart, the club will have a firm grasp of exactly the mould of player that they will be seeking to try and fill the void.
Of course, the Black Cats already have Ross Stewart on their books and his displays in the latter spells of the season – and in particular the play-off semi-final second leg against Lincoln City – gives some encouragement that he could play a key role in the 2021/22 season.
But with Wyke accounting for exactly a third of the club’s goals in all competitions last season, Johnson and Kristjaan Speakman will be looking for as close to guaranteed goals as is possible.
But of course, such players are in high demand.
Jayden Stockely is one striker who potentially could have fitted the bill, with a host of League One clubs keen on a summer move for the Preston North End man. Charlton Athletic look to have won that race, though.
One of the players pinpointed by the data as a potential replacement for Wyke was Portsmouth’s Ellis Harrison, but reports now suggest he looks set for Oxford United.
Sunderland, though, will undoubtedly be keeping tabs on a number of targets should Wyke depart.
Wyke’s all-round game may cause some debate among the fanbase, but there can be no arguing as to the key role his goals played during the last season.
And although there may be more technical players on the market, those goals will prove difficult to replace should Wyke depart this summer.