NEWCASTLE United look to have beaten West Ham United in the race for Jack Colback’s services – with Sunderland trailing a distant third.
The Magpies have won the battle to sign the Black Cats’ midfielder despite a mega-money offer from West Ham United.
Colback’s Sunderland contract is up at the end of the month, and United could confirm the signing as early as next week when the player returns from honeymoon.
It leaves Sunderland mulling over whether to make a last minute and ambitious bid to persuade him to stay.
The Gazette revealed last week that West Ham boss Sam Allardyce was prepared to offer a £50,000 per week pay packet to guarantee the signing of the talented 24-year-old.
That huge wage – considerably more than three times the amount he is currently picking up – was expected to be enough to tempt the Sunderland Academy product into moving to Upton Park.
But the Gazette understands the lure of being able to offer the midfielder enhanced wages AND the prospect of remaining in the North East will clinch a move to St James’s Park.
Colback is currently abroad on his honeymoon – but guests at his wedding learned he was leaning towards Newcastle.
The situation can only have come as an irritation to the Black Cats who must now realise that a little bit of foresight could have avoided one off the best Sunderland youth academy prospects of recent years being allowed to leave for nothing.
Colback was not unsettled when he came to renegotiate his contract last summer as it entered the last 12 months of its existing deal.
But a cursory, virtually insulting, improvement on the midfielder’s wages, offered by then director of football Roberto De Fanti, angered the Colback camp, given that he was already one of the poorest first-teamers at the club.
And although Sunderland, under Gus Poyet, have now come back with a much improved offer for Colback, his head appears to have been turned by the fresh offers that have come his way.
Although Colback was born in Killingworth, north of Tyneside, he was never picked up by Newcastle and has had no problems pinning his colours to Sunderland’s mast since joining the Black Cats at the age of 10.
And after scoring in a 3-0 win over Newcastle United last season he revelled in the adulation which accompanied such a convincing derby victory for the Wearsiders
Now though it appears he faces a choice between the Magpies or the Hammers, with the former offering him the chance to stay in the region and the latter offering him a deal worth millions more.
Whatever happens, it appears that Colback’s long stay at Sunderland is over unless there is a big change of heart at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats have offered Colback the chance to more than double his previous wages but it seems apparent now that that will not be enough to keep him on Wearside.
If they are serious about wanting to keep him, it will cost them a small fortune in comparison to what it would have cost them last summer.