Kristjaan Speakman gives Patrick Roberts contract update and sets out clear Sunderland stance
Patrick Roberts has now entered the final year of his Sunderland deal
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Sunderland have begun contract talks with Patrick Roberts and are keen to secure the winger's long-term future at the club.
Roberts was the subject of transfer interest from Southampton in the latter stages of the summer window, but the Black Cats firmly rejected that approach for a player who has become a fixture in Tony Mowbray's side.
The 26-year-old has entered the final year of his deal but talks were opened earlier this summer and though there has not yet been a resolution, sporting director Kristjaan Speakman said he was hopeful that an agreement would be reached.
"Yes, that conversation has been ongoing," Speakman said when asked if negotiations has begun.
"I think that’s something that we will now pick back up. When you get to the latter end of the transfer window I think it’s always difficult to conclude those talks. We managed to do that with Luke [O’Nien].
"Patrick is a player that we’d like to retain. He’s been an outstanding performer for us on the pitch, and we’ll continue to have those conversations with Patrick and some other players."
Southampton's move for Ross Stewart highlighted the challenge Sunderland currently face in retaining their best players while remaining within their still evolving wage structure, but Speakman said every case was different and he didn't feel there was cause for concern at this point.
Speakman said: "I don’t know [whether Southampton's interest will make a renewal more difficult], to be fair. Players are individuals and we shouldn’t be quick to make assumptions.
'It’s all down to what they would like and whether we can satisfy that. Our track record on that front is good, those conversations will run and there’s no required end line, really.
"Last year we had some players… Lynden got to the end of his contract and then we agreed a new one. It’s just different for everybody, really."
Sunderland sanctioned Stewart's departure but rejected interest in a number of their other players over the course of the summer window including Roberts, fellow winger Jack Clarke and midfielder Pierre Ekwah.
Speakman said it was a sign of the club's progress and that they would be well prepared for the pattern to be repeated in future windows.
He added that it showed the ambitions of the ownership not to take the fees that were on offer.
"That’s the compliment we’re all after, when players are wanted by other clubs at higher levels," Speakman said.
"We see that as a real backhanded compliment.
"We’ve always tried to retain the players and tried to have a really strong process in terms of their contracts. Ultimately, you then need an ownership structure who buy into what we’re doing and are going to be resolute in what our position is. Yes we’ve sold a couple of players in the window, but we’ve also turned down bids on a handful of players.
"It will come round every window and we’ve got to be well prepared for it. We want the players and the team to do really well and if a byproduct of that is that loads of people come to watch our games, then so be it."