Sunderland are running out of time in the transfer window and manager Jack Ross knows the ongoing Josh Maja saga must be resolved soon rather than later.
Speaking to journalists before Saturday’s trip to Scunthorpe, the gaffer, for the first time, displayed a hint of annoyance at a lack of clarity surrounding the club’s top scorer and his contract situation.
Sunderland, though, are adamant they haven’t received any formal offers or approaches, leaving player, club and fans in limbo somewhat.
Maja, in theory, could run down his deal until the end of the season leaving him free to sign with another team in the summer.
The Lewisham-born forward also has the option to sign a pre-contract with a foreign club and, with his agent reportedly having strong ties to in Germany, speculation is rife.
The 22-year-old could also leave in January should an acceptable offer be made.
Either way Ross, it seems, wants a final decision extremely soon, thus allowing the former St Mirren man to act accordingly and manoeuvre in the market.
As the man himself admits, he has a responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the club and its fans.
Ross points out that should Maja leave in January, Sunderland would require not one, but two additional strikers before the window slams shut on the last day of the month.
The club have made offers to Wigan for Northern Ireland ace Will Grigg, who boasts a prolific goal-scoring record alongside good experience in the division.
The former MK Dons man is still relatively young at just 27-years-old, too.
However, the club’s hierarchy must be careful not to fall into the trap of buying players too good for League One, but not good enough the Championship should Sunderland win promotion at the first time of asking.
Short-termism is, after all, why Sunderland find themselves in the third tier of English football for only the second time in the history of the cub after back-to-back relegations from the highs of the Premier League.
One thing is for sure, the deadline set by Charlie Methven and Ross to Maja and his team minutes after the Shrewsbury game has long since passed.
It feels as if this long, drawn-out episode, full of hopeless debate and speculation is hurtling towards a conclusion in the very near future.
And, if I had to put money on it, I’d bet against Maja staying at the Stadium of Light beyond the summer.
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