Sunderland will bid £12m for Wolves’ Fletcher

CATS TARGET ... Steven Fletcher
CATS TARGET ... Steven Fletcher

SUNDERLAND are prepared to meet the £12m asking price for top summer target Steven Fletcher.

The Black Cats, having upped their offer from £10m to £11m in recent days, will finally go to the £12m mark which Wolves have insisted is the lowest fee they would accept before considering the sale of their star asset.

And Martin O’Neill will hope that once the final offer is submitted, progress will be swift on the sale of the Scot to Sunderland.

The fee of £12m, roughly the same sum Sunderland paid for World Cup star Asamoah Gyan, might seem steep for a player who is currently preparing for a season of Championship football.

And on the face of it, is an awful lot of money for a striker who arrived in England from Hibernian two years ago and whose two Premier League campaigns so far have yielded consecutive relegations, first with Burnley and then with Wolves.

But despite being part of doomed sides, Fletcher’s goals to games ratio stacks up impressively, the striker scoring on average in every other Premier League games he starts.

Last season he scored 12 goals and Wolves have pointed out that game for game, he outscored former Sunderland striker Darren Bent, now at Aston Villa.

Certainly it would be interesting to see how the 25-year-old fares in a team not struggling against relegation and Sunderland want to offer him that opportunity.

But the attraction to O’Neill is also that the Scot ticks the boxes in so many of the areas in which his squad was found lacking last season.

Physically robust and over 6ft tall, Fletcher is the capable of being the targetman O’Neill has craved since the manager first arrived at the club last December.

Unlike Arsenal loanee Nicklas Bendtner, who spent much of his year at Sunderland on the wings or lying deep, Fletcher prefers being in the penalty area.

Seven of his 12 goals came from headers and a lack of aerial threat in the opposition penalty area was another Sunderland failing O’Neill was highlighting towards the end of last season.

O’Neill was also pointing out the problem that too often there was no-one in the danger area to thrive on the ammunition being supplied from the flanks by James McClean and Seb Larsson – but Fletcher absolutely thrives on crosses.

And beyond that, the Wolves hitman is happy to do the unsung work of taking the bumps and bruises in the penalty area needed to create space and time for the likes of Stephane Sessegnon and Craig Gardner to get on the end of goalscoring opportunities.

With time ticking towards both the start of the new season and to the end of transfer window, a deal now would suit both parties.

Sunderland’s desperate need for experienced strikers – another box ticked by Fletcher – is well-documented and the sooner they arrive, the better for the Wearsiders.

But Wolves too will see the attraction of selling to Sunderland.

Despite being swift to point out they do not need to sell to balance the books and also that they want to keep their best players at Molineux, they’re also realistic.

Wolves have had no genuine bid other than Sunderland’s for their star man, whose head has been turned completely and who is desperate not to drop out of the Premier League.

And they’re aware of the fact that £12m for a player they both for £7m a year ago, represents an excellent bit of business for them.