The Ellis Simms dilemma awaiting Sunderland as Everton striker faces big summer decision

Sunderland's Championship rivals Ipswich Town have been linked with an ambitious move for Everton striker Ellis Simms
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Sunderland are likely to face significant competition from their Championship rivals this season should they launch a bid to try and bring Ellis Simms back to the club.

Simms made a big impact on Wearside last season, scoring seven goals in seventeen appearances before he was recalled by Frank Lampard in a surprise move at the beginning of the January transfer window. Sunderland retained hope of the striker returning in the latter stages of the month, but Everton's failure to land additional striking cover meant he stayed at Goodison Park.

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Under Sean Dyche he made 11 appearances, scoring one vital goal at Stamford Bridge to rescue a point against Chelsea. That proved crucial as Everton eventually beat the Premier League drop, in turn raising doubts over his long-term future.

Simms has just one year left on his contract, meaning that another loan is highly unlikely unless he agrees a new contract at Goodison Park. That is of course what ultimately happened with Nathan Broadhead last summer, where the Black Cats struck a permanent deal for their former loanee before he decided late in the day to renew and go on loan to Wigan Athletic.

The Broadhead parallel is interesting because it was Ipswich Town, hugely ambitious since their takeover by an American group Gamechanger 20 in 2021, who eventually landed the now 25-year-old with a major bid in the January window.

The deal was understood to be significantly larger than that agreed by Sunderland months previous, and the Black Cats had by that point moved on from their pursuit of the popular forward who had been so integral to their own promotion from League One. Broadhead's impact at Portman Road was significant as Ipswich surged to automatic promotion, and also led to him landing international recognition with Wales.

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Ipswich Town are now believed to be one of the teams eyeing a move for Simms, should he be made available for transfer by Everton. McKenna's side will have a hugely competitive budget again this summer as they look to kick on from their promotion last time around - Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray has already marked them out as one to watch.

Simms' impact, both at Sunderland and previously at Blackpool, mean there will almost certainly be other second-tier suitors.

His contractual status means that as it stands, Everton will almost certainly have to consider a permanent exit this summer, though it seems unlikely that they would sanction any movement until they have been able to recruit more cover from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Should Simms become available then the esteem with which he is still held at Sunderland, as well as the obvious need for significant reinforcements up front, mean the Black Cats would surely try to strike.

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Their close relationship with the striker could be a significant advantage, but news of Ipswich's potential interest is a reminder of how in demand strikers of Simms' profile are to Championship clubs.

Sunderland are believed to be leading the race for young Benfica striker Luis Semedo but their striker business will not end there, and fans will be fascinated to see whether Simms does emerge as a big part of their plans - and whether the club are willing to compete with their divisional rivals on this deal.

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