David Moyes: I need a big centre-forward today – it’s crucial for Sunderland to survive

Leonardo Ulloa
Leonardo Ulloa

Sunderland are desperate to seal a deal for a new striker on deadline day, with top target Leonardo Ulloa locked in an extraordinary stand-off with Leicester City.

The Foxes turned down a £7million bid from Sunderland yesterday, with manager Claudio Ranieri insisting that the striker will not be sold.

That came just days after he hinted that the Argentinian could be allowed to leave - and it sparked a furious reaction from Ulloa.

The 30-year-old has threatened to go on strike and said he has been ‘betrayed’ by the Italian boss.

He said: “I’m a bit sad about the current situation.

“It’s been two wonderful years at the club but now, given my situation - not playing and not being part of the team’s plans - I feel that the best way forward is I leave and I can be happy somewhere else.

“The manager has been telling me for the last three months and the last two weeks that if an offer of around £4-5m was arriving to the club, he will help me to leave.

“My understanding is that at this moment, there are offers around those figures or even bigger that are not being considered.

“I can’t really understand the situation or why they don’t let me continue playing my football somewhere else.

“If I stay at the club, it is going to seriously affect my career and my future. They know I am not going to be used.

“The best thing for both parties is they sell me to another club and I can continue playing my football somewhere else.”

Leicester, just six points clear of the Black Cats in the table, do not want to strengthen a relegation rival, while Ranieri is also reluctant to lose is back-up target man.

Ulloa is fifth choice at the King Power Stadium but only Islam Slimani is comfortable playing in that role, himself subject of interest from China and suffering from an injury.

It is not yet clear whether Ulloa’s anger will encourage Sunderland to return with another bid, or whether they will switch their attentions to other targets.

David Moyes has said a target man is his key priority after the long-term injury Victor Anichebe picked up at the Hawthorns.

He said: “It was incredible – we brought him on, and he opened his knee up in a challenge that means he will be out for ten weeks now.

“That’s incredibly bad luck because Victor has been very important, as has Jordan Pickford, and we have needed them both at different times.

“Their losses have been crucial to us, of all the players we have lost they have been the two.

“So we would like to try and get a centre-forward in, a big centre-forward, if we can.

“Victor gave us an outlet, a starting point. If we couldn’t play, we could always go more direct to Victor.

“I think everyone remembers the impact he has had in some of the games recently, Watford at home, away at Bournemouth.

“For a free transfer, someone that no-one took, you would have to say it was as good as any we have done.”