Celtic most likely move for Sunderland striker, despite China speculation

Steven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher
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Celtic are thought to be the main suitors for Steven Fletcher, despite the Sunderland striker being linked with a surprise move to China.

Fletcher is out-of-contract at the end of the season and Sunderland have put all talks over a new deal on hold until their fate is known in the relegation battle.

That has prompted surprise speculation over a move to Shanghai Shenhua - the Chinese side who have already signed ex-Chelsea frontman Demba Ba and are hoping to conclude a deal for Newcastle midfielder Cheik Tiote.

However, the Echo understands that long-term admirers Celtic are the main suitors for Fletcher and the Scottish international is equally tempted to play for the SPL champions at some stage of his career.

Celtic were interested in Fletcher - who cost Sunderland £12million three-and-a-half years ago - during the summer, but were unable to match the frontman's wages.

But the 28-year-old could agree a pre-contract agreement with an overseas team this month - allowing Celtic to sign him on a Bosman deal next summer.

With Sunderland facing that situation, the Black Cats could be tempted to cash-in on Fletcher if they receive a permanent offer this month.

But Danny Graham remains the most likely frontman to depart in the January window, with Dame N'Doye poised to take the ex-Middlesbrough man's place in Sunderland's striking ranks.