Why Alex Pritchard's Sunderland future remains in significant doubt despite contract extension offer

Sunderland have offered Alex Pritchard a contract extension but a resolution appears some way off at this stage
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Alex Pritchard's long-term future at Sunderland remains in doubt despite the club's offer to extend his current contract.

Sporting director Kristjaan Speakman confirmed yesterday that Pritchard had been offered an extension to his deal, which expires this summer. However, The Echo understands that Pritchard is highly unlikely to accept that as it stands. The attacking midfielder has been in superb form so far this season, making 25 appearances in all competitions and establishing himself as an integral part of the starting XI.

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Pritchard's preference would be to stay at Sunderland having enjoyed a hugely successful two-and-a-half years at the club to date and where he is immensely popular with supporters, but as it stands the 30-year-old is thought to be minded to pursue alternative options.

The Echo understands that Pritchard has been offered an extra year by Sunderland, but would like a longer deal to give him greater security moving into the next stage of his career. It's also understood that Sunderland at this stage have not been able to match the financial terms of some of the offers that have been made to the attacking midfielder.

While Speakman spoke glowingly of Pritchard's contribution to the team and the club since his arrival on Thursday, he was close to leaving the club in the summer after the club made clear that they would not stand in his way if an offer arrived. At that stage, the offer of a new deal was thought to be highly unlikely and that was a source of disappointment for those close to Pritchard after his contribution over the previous two seasons. Pritchard has been weighing up his long-term future as a result and as it stands, appears likely to depart unless there is a significant change in the situation.

Sunderland do not want to let Pritchard go in this window due to his current importance, and the player is not keen to leave. Nevertheless, a resolution to his contract status appears to be unlikely at least at this stage.

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Speaking on Thursday, Speakman said: “From my perspective, Alex has been an absolutely integral part of getting us to where we are in the Championship, in a really good position.

"He’s a really important player for the group, and I’m really pleased that he’s got back in the team. He wasn’t in the team for a little bit, but he’s back in the team now. His contract is up at the end of the season. With every player, there’s questions about whether they will be staying or going in every window because we’ve got top players.

"From Alex’s perspective, we’ve made the decision more recently to offer him an extension to his contract. We wouldn’t normally do that because we’d normally do that as part of our succession planning somewhere around March or April time. But we just felt that in conversations with him, that was something we probably needed to do because of the situation and where his head was at more than anything."

Pritchard has been linked with a reunion with Tony Mowbray at Birmingham City, while there has also been interest from the MLS and the Turkish Super League. In the final six months of his deal, Pritchard could agree a pre-contract deal with a club from abroad should he choose.