Jones fee is key to Sunderland chase

TARGET? Mauro Zarate
TARGET? Mauro Zarate
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STOKE boss Tony Pulis admits former Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones could join Swansea if the price is right – triggering Danny Graham’s move to the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland’s chances of bringing Chester-le-Street-born Graham back to the North East revolve around Swansea replacing the ex-Middlesbrough forward with Jones before the end of the transfer window.

For the domino-effect of deals to take place, Swansea must up their offer for Jones to around £6million after seeing a bid of £3m rejected for the Trinidad international last week.

Pulis says Jones, restricted to a substitute’s role in Saturday’s meeting between the two clubs at the Liberty Stadium, could be sold before January 31, although it will depend both on the price and whether the 28-year-old is willing to join Swansea.

“Kenwyne has never come into my office and said he wants to leave the football club,” said Pulis.

“It’s great speculation. If the two clubs are talking then they have to talk and speak to me and then I’ll speak to Kenwyne. You always want to keep your top strikers. I’ll be as open and honest as anybody.

“If an offer comes in for any player in the Premier League and it’s the right offer then you look at it and then speak to the player.

“If it comes to a point where we accept an offer from Swansea then it will be down to Kenwyne whether he wants to go on that.

“Because if he says no, there will be no problems with me.”

Sunderland made a formal bid for Graham last week and Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill will hope to make further progress before Swansea visit the Stadium of Light in nine days.

Graham is thought to be keen on a move to Wearside and Swansea boss Michael Laudrup continues to leave the door open for the 27-year-old’s departure.

When asked whether Graham would still be at the club at the end of the window, Laudrup said: “I don’t know. I can’t answer that question and I don’t even know if Danny can.

“We just have to wait and see what happens in the next 12 days.”

But Sunderland face competition for Graham’s signature, most notably from Norwich City, who have submitted a bids both for the Swansea striker and Celtic frontman Gary Hooper.

After Saturday’s 5-0 rout at Liverpool, Canaries boss Chris Hughton was asked whether Graham was one of the players who Norwich had made offers for and the former Newcastle manager confirmed: “Yes, he is.”

Sunderland’s are in need of fresh acquisitions up front, with Louis Saha’s contract cancelled and Fraizer Campbell closing in on a £600,000 move to Championship Cardiff City.

Campbell was tellingly not even on the Sunderland bench in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Wigan, although it is understood there is still work needed to be done on the deal.

Cardiff are in no hurry though, with Malky Mackay’s men not in action again until February 2 and heading off for a week-long training camp in Dubai.

Sunderland were also linked with a loan move yesterday for Argentine forward Mauro Zarate, who is available after a bust-up with Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic.

Martin O’Neill is open to short-term loans after signing Senegalese centre-half Kader Mangane until the end of the season and seeing a move for ex-Everton midfielder Tim Cahill fall through.

Former Birmingham man Zarate is also rumoured to be interesting Dynamo Kiev, Besiktas and QPR.