Sunderland were in talks with Oxford United about a deal for Sean Clare but the versatile midfielder is now expected to join League One rivals Charlton Athletic instead, as reported by TEAMtalk.
While Corry Evans and Alex Pritchard certainly felt like ambitious, almost approaching statement signings from a club who missed out on promotion for the third season running last term, it has not all been sunshine and roses for Lee Johnson’s Black Cats this summer.
Sunderland lost their most prolific striker in two decades when Charlie Wyke decided to turn down a contract and join a club who finished 16 places and 29 points behind them in the League One table in 2020/21.
The Wearside giants then watched Wyke’s readymade replacement, Joe Pigott, join Ipswich Town instead. And it seems the Tractor Boys are about to steamroller Sunderland again, with Middlesbrough left-back Hayden Coulson also on his way to Portman Road.
If that wasn’t enough, TEAMtalk report that Johnson has also been snubbed in favour of Lee Adkins with Charlton on the verge of securing Clare’s sought-after signature.
Will Sunderland regret missing out on Sean Clare?
Sunderland are understood to have opened talks with Oxford. But, after Adkins made Clare one of his top transfer targets at the Valley, Charlton have blown their competition out of the water.
Hackney-born Clare was once one of the most coveted young players in the whole of the EFL, exploding onto the scene with Sheffield Wednesday while earning comparisons with one-time MK Dons wonderkid Dele Alli.
But rather than develop into an elite-level attacking midfielder in the Premier League, Clare spent much of last season playing as a converted right-back in the third-tier of English football.
Interestingly, Oxford manager Karl Robinson suggested in June that the U’s were ready for life without Clare should a man snapped up for £100,000 from Hearts decide to move elsewhere.
“If Sean wants to come to a team that’s consistently been in the top six for two years and keep us in there, come and get your place,” Robinson told the Oxford Mail.
“If you don’t and you feel the challenge is beyond that, and you want to move on, we have to do some business that’s right for the football club.
“If Sean goes we have to replace with better.”