Football League World
·28 March 2023
Football League World
·28 March 2023
Sunderland will not want to go through another summer where Ross Stewart is in-demand, but it looks likely that it's going to be the case once again.
The Black Cats had to fend off interest in the middle part of 2022 for the Scotsman, but at that point things were quite relaxed as the fact he had an extra years extension in his deal at the Stadium of Light meant that whatever the case, the club would not be losing him on the cheap just yet.
Stewart's 26-goal haul in League One last season was a breakout moment for the striker, who had filled Charlie Wyke's boots and then some, but he also had to prove he could make the step up to Championship level as well.
Having scored five goals and notched a further three assists in the first seven matches of the current campaign, Stewart was well on his way to proving that, only for a thigh injury to put him on the sidelines for three months.
Upon his return, Stewart scored five times in six second tier outings, as well as in an FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury as well, and it looked as though if he was able to stay fit he could fire the Wearsiders into the play-offs.
However, a cruel twist of fate happened as Stewart went down with a season-ending achilles injury against Fulham two months ago, and it has left Tony Mowbray extremely thin on the ground in attack ever since and also lacking a consistent goalscoring threat.
Despite currently being out of action, rumours surrounding Stewart's future at Sunderland have not ceased, and the first club to be linked ahead of the summer transfer window is none other than their Championship rivals Stoke City.
What do we know so far?
According to a report from Alan Nixon on Patreon over the weekend, Stewart's former manager Alex Neil is plotting on making a move for the 26-year-old in the summer months.
Stewart is Neil's main striker target having worked together in his six months in charge at the Stadium of Light, and with the Potters restructuring their finances recently and wiping a mass amount of debt from the books, they could have money to spend later this year.
A report from Sports Illustrated earlier in the month claimed that Stewart was 'close' to penning a new deal with Sunderland, but nothing has happened so far and that means his contract will expire currently in June 2024.
Should Stewart not agree a new contract on Wearside before the transfer window re-opens, then it could put Sunderland in a vulnerable position when the vultures come circling, and with their new policy on investing in young talents with the potential to sell them on for big money in the future, the Scotland international could realistically depart.
Is it likely to happen?
On the face of it, you'd say probably no.
Historically, you would say that Sunderland are a much bigger club than Stoke with both also having recent Premier League pasts, but the fanbase of the Black Cats is also larger.
But there is a reason why Alex Neil departed earlier in the season for the Bet365 Stadium - the closer proximity of his family home to Stoke may be one of them but the club have a lot of money behind them and were clearly able to offer him a payrise.
It's been well documented that the Stoke owners converted £40 million worth of debt into equity and waived £120 million worth of loans last year, so financially they are stable and the £15 million sale of Harry Souttar to Leicester City in January will only strengthen Neil's hand in the transfer market.
You could see Stoke tempting Sunderland with a big offer this summer, especially as they are thin on the ground up top with Dwight Gayle not exactly pulling up any trees, but Stewart will surely either hold out for the contract he wants and feels he deserves where he currently is or he will try and get a Premier League move.
View publisher imprint