Sunderland face fresh Championship and North American competition for sought-after striker target
Sunderland are facing fresh competition in the race for Argentinian striker Mateo Bajamich - with Championship interest emerging.
And a second MLS side are also understood to have entered the race for the 21-year-old - who came on Sunderland's radar as Phil Parkinson eyed players who would be exempt from the League One salary cap.
The Black Cats were prepared to concede defeat in their pursuit of the striker last week, with Bajamich looking set to pen a four-year deal at Houston Dynamo.
A fee of around $1.2million was agreed, but talks between the MLS side and Bajamich's current employers, Instituto, have stalled over the payment terms.
And now one of Instituto's directors, Juan Cavagliatto, has confirmed that there is a second - unnamed - MLS side showing interest in Bajamich.
But the Argentinian outfit are in no hurry to sell their prized asset, and could retain the striker should no deal prove economically viable.
After claiming a second MLS side had entered the race, Cavagliatto told Radio Sucesos: "Bajamich is going to leave if the club gets a good economic proposal, and if there is a good sale. We are not going to sell badly."
Sunderland's interest in the forward is not fully off the table, but it's understood a deal is unlikely as things stand.
Indeed, The Echo understands that at least two Championship clubs have also shown an interest in Bajamich as the competition for the forward hots-up.
Local reports in Argentina have suggested that Bajamich's agent, Lucas Rimoldi, has received enquiries from European sides keen on a loan deal - with an option to buy.
Sunderland's offer, however, is understood to be for a permanent deal with an initial fee of £500,000 proposed.
The fee could rise thanks to a number of add-ons, while Instituto also stand to benefit from a percentage of any future sale.
Speaking last week, prior to the Houston stalemate, Parkinson said: “We get a lot of players pushed to us and we spend a lot of time going through him in our system,” he said.
“But it was always going to be difficult to do a deal because the minute a couple of clubs are in for a player, the price goes up to a level that becomes a little bit too much.”