What comes next for Will Grigg amid exit speculation and why a Sunderland stay is looking increasingly likely
It’s been one of the key questions of pre-season, and one which is yet to receive a conclusive answer.
What is going to happen with Will Grigg?
The striker spent the latter part of the 2020/21 season on loan at MK Dons and a permanent departure was expected this summer.
But with just over a week until the season kicks-off, Grigg remains on Wearside.
So what is the current situation? We take a look...
THE OUTSIDE INTEREST
Grigg’s constructive loan spell at MK Dons last season naturally attracted interest from other League One sides.
The Dons were naturally keen to bring back the striker, while big-spending Wigan Athletic were another side considering a move for their former talisman.
However, a deal was never going to be straightforward.
Grigg’s wages at the Stadium of Light could prove a stumbling block for many third tier side looking to strike a deal – and in a window where a plethora of players are available, there were always going to be other options on the table that may have been easier to navigate from a financial standpoint.
And both of those clubs have indeed secured other strikers.
Wigan have added both Charlie Wyke and Stephen Humphrys, while MK Dons secured the eye-catching additions of Mo Eisa and Troy Parrott.
It seems unlikely that either side will commit any more significant capital into securing strikers given those deals, meaning moves for Grigg now look unlikely.
One potential option could be Oxford United. Karl Robinson has made no secret of his desire to sign Grigg in the past and they are known to be in the market for forwards having missed out on Ellis Harrison from Portsmouth.
However, there is not understood to be any serious interest from the U’s in Grigg at present.
Lee Johnson has been clear in his stance that as long as Grigg is on Wearside, then he will be considered for selection.
With a year left on his contract, the head coach is keen to work with the striker – and urged him to continue giving his all to get in the team.
"We haven't really had too many discussions because he's here and he's under contract," Johnson said, speaking last week.
"While you're here and under contract you've just got to give 100% to get in the team and stay there, and to score goals.
"We have spoken on the football front about what I want from him, and how we need to push him and drive him.”
And there is likely a reluctance on Sunderland’s part to let the striker go when their own attacking options remain limited.
Were Grigg to depart, then it would leave only Ross Stewart and Aiden O’Brien as recognised senior strikers.
It’s a position the club are looking to address – but until they do, it seems unlikely that Grigg will depart.
WHAT LOOKS MOST LIKELY NOW?
It looks increasingly unlikely that Grigg will leave Sunderland before the transfer window closes – given the potential exit routes that have appeared to close and the Black Cats’ own attacking predicament.
The ball, then, is in the striker’s court.
He may well get a chance in the next few weeks, and then it will be down to him to take it.