Sunderland look increasingly like missing out on midfield targets Stewart Downing and Marco van Ginkel, with the latter’s move to Stoke confirmed.
West Ham’s Downing has been at the top of Sunderland’s shopping list this summer, as Lee Congerton and Dick Advocaat look to improve the creativity of a side who boasted the joint second worst goal return in the Premier League last season.
But as the Echo reported earlier this week, there has been a growing feeling at Sunderland that Downing has his heart set on an emotional return to former club Middlesbrough, even though it means dropping into the Championship.
Boro don’t believe agreeing personal terms with Downing will be a problem, although they still have to agree a fee with West Ham, who are looking for more than £5million for the 30-year-old.
But with Downing left out of the Hammers squad for this weekend’s friendly with Peterborough, Boro are increasingly confident that their talks with the Upton Park outfit will reap dividends.
Missing out on Downing will be more of a blow to Sunderland than van Ginkel, who has NOT been among the Black Cats’ leading options.
Chelsea midfielder van Ginkel has joined the Potters on a season-long loan as part of the deal taking goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to Stamford Bridge.
But while van Ginkel has been a possibility considered by Sunderland, it is understood that Advocaat wants a more creative player to complement Lee Cattermole and Seb Larsson in the middle of the park.