David Moyes insists ‘priceless’ Jermain Defoe isn’t going anywhere amid January interest from Premier League rivals West Ham United.
The Hammers are interested in bringing the 34-year-old striker back to the club in order to bolster their faltering attack.
But Moyes is adamant the eight-goal top scorer won’t be leaving Wearside as he is too important to Sunderland’s survival hopes.
Moyes said: “He’s priceless, isn’t he? There is not a price we could put on his head because he’s so important to us staying as a Premier League club.
“He’s scored us eight goals just now and if he scores us another eight or 10 in the second half of the season it will give us a great opportunity of staying up.
“We won’t sell him but we obviously can’t stop people talking about it and writing about it.
“You ask me the question which means I’ve got to answer it, which gives it more news.
“But the fact of the matter is, we’ve heard nothing and we wouldn’t be interested in hearing anything either.”
Interest from Slaven Bilic in Defoe comes in the same week the striker was crowned the 2016 North East Football Writers’ Player of the Year, with the Young Player of the Year trophy going to Jordan Pickford.
Defoe netted 19 goals in the calendar year, helping keep the Black Cats in the Premier League last season and spearheading the survival bid this season.
Washington-born Pickford has been a revelation since breaking into the first team when Vito Mannone injured his elbow.
The 22-year-old has been called into the England squad after a string of stunning performances.
And Moyes believes they are both worthy winners.
“Yeah, I think in the North East you would say that they’ve been the best players,” added Moyes.
“I don’t know all the players but I would have thought maybe some of the Middlesbrough players would have pushed them hard because of getting promoted.
“Newcastle have started the season very well, so that comes in.
“But I think what Jermain Defoe did at the end of last season for the club and at the start of this season, and over the calendar year, his goals (have warranted it).
“And I think Jordan Pickford as a young player has probably been propelled by coming into the team and probably playing 15-20 games, and he’s already been picked for the England squad.
“I think that looks justifiably correct, I think he looks an incredibly good talent, a real talent.
“So I have to say they both look good choices.”