Sunderland owner Stewart Donald reveals why Josh Maja sale was a 'bad deal'

Sunderland will change the contacts they offer to younger players following the sale of Josh Maja, owner Stewart Donald has revealed.

Sunday, 3rd February 2019, 4:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 4:13 pm
Josh Maja was sold to Bordeaux in January.

The Black Cats received just £1.5million up front for their top scorer, who was sold to Bordeaux last month after turning down a new contract offer at the Stadium of Light.

Maja, who had scored 16 goals in all competitions before leaving Sunderland, only became a first-team regular at the start of the season but didn't receive a pay rise after breaking into the senior side.

For that reason, the striker was still earning less than £1,000 per week, which put the club in a difficult position according to Donald, who opened up about the deal on the latest episode of the Roker Rapport podcast.

The Sunderland owner believes young players should automatically be offered an increased salary in return for a contract extension, if they make it into the first team.

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“It’s not a good deal,” said Donald. “It’s cost us by not having it organised correctly."

“You can argue I should have started that (negotiation) in August instead of end of September but to be fair when I came to the club, Josh Maja wasn’t particularly well known.

“Every week we were trying to organise a contract, he scored another goal. It was the perfect storm.

“What we should have done is turned around and said when he starts playing, the boy was on less than £1,000 a week, you start earning more money but we get more years.

“We might be in the same boat with Benji (Kimpioka), who is in the last year of his contract next season, doing it after the event, the price just goes through the roof."

After it became clear Maja wasn't going to stay, Donald and manager Jack Ross had to make a decision whether to keep the striker until the end of the season.

Maja could have signed a pre-contract with another club in January, allowing him to stay at Sunderland until the end of the season.

Yet that would have meant Sunderland missed out on a transfer fee, while Donald wasn't sure how the striker would react.

"Jack talked to him and Josh said I’ve decided to move on," said Donald.

"From that moment on it was about whether we could get the right deal and whether we could keep Josh until the end of the season.

"I had a conversation with Jack because we need to keep Josh if he’s mentally right to stay and on that basis if we didn’t think he was right to stay we’d need to have a look.

"Josh is a lovely lad and you can’t blame him in lots of ways for wanting to move but we have to be sure that if we’re going to keep him he is going to deliver as he has for the season moving forward.

"On balance, after having a conversation with Jack, it was clear we preferred to get a replacement."

Donald also admitted Sunderland would have received a better deal for Maja if they'd sold him to an English club, yet the player's mind was already set on a move abroad.

"It got more frustrating because we had better deals in this country but Josh’s mind, or his agent’s mind, was made up that he was going to move abroad.

"From that point there wasn’t really an awful lot of negotiating that could be done because it was well we can move him on in the summer for not very much or you take the deal that is on the table.

"I still haggled as hard as I possibly, physically could on that and got it up quite a lot I think, because at the end of the season there’s no sell on there’s no extras, no anything.

"If Josh does alright we’ll ultimately get a fair value for him, at the moment we’ve only got £1.5million for him and that is not much for a striker with the potential he’s got."