The former Newcastle United youngster James Tavernier was linked with a return to the North East in December.
According to The Mail, Sunderland were hoping to lure the rampaging right-back from Scottish Premiership champions Rangers as his contract ran down. Tavernier had just 18 months remaining on his deal and, the report adds, the Black Cats were hoping that a cut-price deal could be struck in January.
The transfer window slammed shut, however, and the 26-year-old was still a Rangers player. And it now seems very unlikely that he will be donning those red and white stripes any time soon.
Because the Mail reports that Tavernier, who cost just £200,000 from Wigan in 2015, has held positive talks with Rangers’ director of football Mark Allen and now looks likely to sign a new long-term contract at Ibrox until 2021.
Now this is a significant boost for the Glasgow giants. Tavernier’s improvement over the last 12 months has been astounding. He is no longer an all-out attacker with a damaging disregard for his defensive duties but an all-round full-back who does his job effectively at either end of the pitch.
But, conversely, Sunderland should be very disappointed that they have missed out on the chance to sign a player who Rangers manager Graeme Murty believes is the best right-back in Scotland bar none.
Sunderland manager Chris Coleman has to pick between the rather limited duo of Adam Matthews and Billy Jones, who have two goals and two assists between them all season.
Tavernier, however, has six and eight to his name; a stunning tally for a full-back whose brilliant crosses and set-piece speciality would have added a completely different dimension to Sunderland’s attack.