Sunderland striking target set for summer switch

Sebastian Haller
Sebastian Haller
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Sunderland transfer target Sebastien Haller is expected to leave Dutch club Utrecht this summer.

French targetman Haller has been on Sunderland’s radar for almost a year after the Black Cats held talks over a move for the 21-year-old last summer.

Haller was also among the striking options considered by Sam Allardyce in the January transfer window and Sunderland scouts watched him several times, before deciding that he wasn’t ready for the Premier League, particularly with Utrecht setting a price tag in excess of £6million.

But the 6ft 2in striker has netted 27 goals in 41 starts in the Dutch top flight and that return continues to attract suitors, with his agent claiming that he will move to a new club at the end of the season.

“He will leave in the summer, that’s for sure,” said Loic Gustan.

Sunderland’s pursuit of Haller would only persist if they were still in the Premier League and they are far from the only top flight club who have been tracking him.

Norwich looked to have won the race for Haller in January after Utrecht accepted a £6.5m bid, but the French Under-21 international – who netted both goals in Thursday night’s 2-0 win over Scotland U21s – was reluctant to move to Carrow Road and opted to remain in Holland instead.

Unlike many overseas recruits, Haller is not thought to be blinded by the riches of the Premier League and could opt to remain in Holland, with Ajax among those clubs interested in his signature.

“Haller has mapped out a path for himself and he won’t just join any club,” added Gustan. He wants to join a stable club and a club that has the structure to play European football.

“I think Ajax will soon find themselves talking to Utrecht on Sebastien.”

Whichever division Sunderland are in next season, Allardyce will be in the market for attacking reinforcements.

Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher both left the club on loan deals in the January window which run until the end of their Sunderland contracts in the summer, while Dame N’Doye is only at the Stadium of Light on a loan deal from Turkish side Trabzonspor.

That leaves Jermain Defoe as the only orthodox central striker, albeit that remains Fabio Borini’s favoured position.