SUNDERLAND will continue their pursuit of major summer target Jozy Altidore, despite having an opening offer rejected by AZ Alkmaar.
SportMail revealed almost a fortnight ago now how Sunderland have targeted the free-scoring American as the man to galvanise their attacking line-up next season.
And although things went quiet in the days after SportMail broke the story, much has been happening behind the scenes. culminating in the Black Cats making a concrete offer for the 23-year-old this week.
That bid does not appear to have been successful but the Dutch side are still fully expected to sell their star striker this summer and Sunderland remain firm favourites.
Some confusion exists over whether or not the bid was officially rejected. An AZ club spokesman was quoted claiming: “The first offer was not sufficient. That we can say. Now it’s wait and see.”
However the club’s technical director Earnie Stewart, while confirming Sunderland were the only club yet to make a bid for the USA international, told American media: “I have not spoken to them yet.”
What is beyond doubt though is that Sunderland have prime position at the negotiating table with other clubs rumoured to be interested having not made a bid.
SportMail understands that Altidore would welcome a move to Sunderland.
Last night, the American striker’s agent, Lyle Yorks, was believed to be en route from the United States to Europe, and that in itself would suggest a prospective deal is on the cards.
Things could now well move swiftly with the Black Cats not wanting to be involved in overly-protracted negotiations.
Altidore scored 31 goals for his side last season and clubs from across Europe will have kept tabs on him.
But Sunderland have made no secret to the player, or his club, about their desire to bring him to Wearside.
And the mid-table Eredivision side know that now is the prime time to sell a player who helped them win the Dutch Cup last season.
Sunderland’s head coach Paolo Di Canio has made half-a-dozen new signings so far this close season but has yet to land a senior striker.
And the club is determined to bring in the 6ft 1in, powerfully-built Altidore to improve the options up front.
Should he arrive on Wearside, he would be expected to partner Steven Fletcher up front once the Scottish international is fit again.
Sunderland of course have other options up front in the meantime – Danny Graham, Stephane Sessegnon, Connor Wickham, and Ji Dong-won though question marks hang over all four.