Sunderland AFC transfer news: Chris Rigg eyed by Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Chelsea amid contract decision

The transfer and contract situation surrounding Chris Rigg explained amid interest from Liverpool, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Man City and Man United.
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Chris Rigg continues to be the subject of transfer interest from major clubs in England and Europe with the highly-rated youth prodigy seen as one of the premier talents in world football for his age.

Yet there are still questions to be answered regarding his future at Sunderland despite the plan mapped out for the attacking midfielder. Here, The Echo takes you through our understanding of the player's situation amid transfer interest. We'll also take a look at Rigg's contract situation and the plans decision-makers at the Academy of Light have set in place for him...

Is there transfer interest in Chris Rigg?

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To be brutally honest, and this isn't what Sunderland fans will want to hear, but yes there is... and from just about every major club in Europe too. The Echo understands that Bayern Munich are keen as are Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool.

In truth, there probably isn't a club in England and on the continent that wouldn't take Rigg off Sunderland's hands should an opportunity arise. For instance, Birmingham City, now under the stewardship of former Black Cats boss Tony Mowbray, the man who handed Rigg his first-team debut as a 15-year-old, have also shown an interest. Their new American owners have ambitions beyond their current Championship status.

Why is Chris Rigg still at Sunderland with such serious interest elsewhere?

Rigg signed a two-year scholarship deal at Sunderland last summer, which was seen as a major coup for the club amid interest from top-level clubs. At 16, Rigg is not yet eligible to sign professional terms and could, technically, move to another club if a fee was agreed between the two clubs. Sunderland would be compensated via a tribunal if Rigg was to leave at the end of his scholarship deal and move elsewhere.

However, Rigg stayed at the Academy of Light after being convinced by the pathway at Sunderland, which has started to produce the goods for the club in recent years. Dan Neil, 22, has 136 senior games to his name already and has grown by playing regular football. Anthony Patterson, 23, has 120 first-team matches under his belt too.

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And there is the example of Jobe Bellingham also. Brought to Sunderland as a 17-year-old, the former Birmingham City man has already featured 31 times for the Black Cats this season and has played 57 times in senior competitions. These are the players Rigg is looking to emulate and that is why he has remained on Wearside despite the lucrative and attractive offers on the table elsewhere.

There is a feeling amongst Rigg's camp that his development would be better served playing for Sunderland's first-team, rather than falling into the trap of becoming stuck playing under-21s football for a major club, where players can so often get lost in the system with senior opportunities limited. In the short-term, it is understood that the player won't be going anywhere because he wants to prove himself at Sunderland and gain regular first-team minutes. Rigg, a North East boy from a family of Newcastle United and Sunderland supporters, is fond of the Black Cats and harbours ambitions of captaining the club one day.

What do Sunderland have to do to keep Chris Rigg?

Sunderland have not wanted to over expose Rigg and rightly so with the player still just 16-years-old. Rigg made his debut as a 15-year-old last season in the FA Cup against Shrewsbury Town and made a further two appearances against Premier League club Fulham in the same competition after a replay. Fast forward to this campaign and Rigg has featured eight times in all competitions and has netted goals in the Carabao Cup and Championship.

There is a growing feeling on Wearside that to keep Rigg, Sunderland will have to add to that tally of seven league appearances during the second half of the 2023-24 season. In short, to keep Rigg at Sunderland, Michael Beale is going to have to play him in the first-team, with the examples of Jobe, Neil and Patterson providing the template. It must be noted that appearances for Rigg were limited in the first part of the season by the youngster's involvement in England's youth World Cup campaign in Indonesia.

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Rigg has been playing for Sunderland in the FA Youth Cup for the under-18s under Jordan Moore and Fin Lynch. The player's attitude has been praised and his performances have been good. However, The Echo understands that after the Black Cats were knocked out in the fifth round against Swindon Town, that the player was told he will no longer feature for under-18s as Sunderland look to push the player even further on in his development. Rigg missed out on Beale's squad to face Middlesbrough in the Championship last Sunday because he had played in the cup the Friday before.

Rigg is due to turn 17 in June and will be eligible to sign professional terms with any club he choses. There is a deal in place with Sunderland that has been verbally agreed upon but until it is signed, Rigg is not a professional at Sunderland and could be tempted elsewhere. That means the next four months will prove crucial in persuading the player to continue his development at the Academy of Light beyond the age of 17. Sunderland will have to prove that with first-team starts and minutes or risk losing a big talent.

What has Michael Beale said about Chris Rigg?

Speaking after Sunderland's 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough and Rigg's absence, Beale said: "I was pleased with Riggy when he came on against Stoke.

"He obviously missed out at the weekend because he was involved with the FA Youth Cup, but I was very pleased with him. We don't want to talk about age because we believe in their talent, but for someone so young... he showed me that he wants to be involved, he doesn't just want a bit-part role.

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"He wants to play. I think it was always going to be the second half of the season that you were going to see him more, but that depends on a lot of factors doesn't it. You always felt it would be that way but there's always fitness and form [to consider] as well.

"He came on and Stoke and contributed, he's got a no-fear mentality. He's a lefty and that gives you a really good balance in the team, too. That's really important to any possession-based team, like we are.

Speaking after Sunderland's 3-1 win against Stoke City at the Stadium of Light two weeks ago, Beale outlined Sunderland's plan for Rigg after he was subbed on during the second-half.

"Riggy has trained with us every single day. Ben Crompton has been with us too. [Tommy] Watson as well. I am really delighted with the players we have got coming through the system. Not just Chris. But Chris is a left-footed midfielder, he is tenacious and he can score a goal, he can pick a pass and he's all-in.

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"On top of that, he is very young, so we have to manage that. But I thought he deserved his minutes on the park today and you will see him a lot more between now and the end of the season, that is for sure."

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