Friday 18 August 2017

O'Shea in limbo as Sunderland seek manager

O’Shea is one of seven Sunderland players whose deals are up at the end of the month. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
O’Shea is one of seven Sunderland players whose deals are up at the end of the month. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

John O'Shea could still have a future at Sunderland despite his inclusion on a list of released players.

The Ireland defender's contract with the Wearsiders has expired but he has indicated that he is keen to stay with the club after their relegation to the Championship.

All 20 sides that competed in the 2016/17 Premier League season were asked to submit a list of retained and released players yesterday.

Any out of contract performer who is yet to agree a new deal is listed as released, even if negotiations are ongoing.

O'Shea is one of seven Sunderland players whose deals are up at the end of the month. The others are Jan Kirchhoff, Sebastian Larsson, Joleon Lescott, Victor Anichebe, Steven Pienaar and Will Buckley.

Both the Irishman and Larsson have discussed new deals. But they are in limbo until the club appoints a new manager, who will then decide if they are a part of his plans.

O'Shea is well thought of at Sunderland and has settled in the area since leaving Manchester United in 2011. There is expectation locally that the 36-year-old will be kept on.

O'Shea could be joined in the second tier by his Ireland team-mate Glenn Whelan, who is wanted by Aston Villa. Steve Bruce has stepped up his interest in the Stoke midfielder by lodging a £500,000 bid that has been rejected.

The signing of Darren Fletcher from West Brom has put Whelan's place at Stoke in jeopardy and he is expected to depart after nine years at the club. Whelan is still under contract for another season.

Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been released by Manchester United, following a season in which the enigmatic Swede was the club's top goalscorer with 27 in all competitions before rupturing his cruciate ligaments in the Europa League quarter-final.

The 35-year-old is not expected to be fit to play before Christmas and it is anticipated that he will do his rehab at United's training ground. Last summer he signed a one-year deal that expires on June 30.

Had he been fit it would have been a certainty that Ibrahimovic would have been retained another year. He would have triggered a one-year extension to his £19m annual wages if he had played 31 Premier League games, but only reached 27 before the injury.

He could yet play for the club again should United find themselves in need of a striker in January but more likely is that Ibrahimovic will finish an illustrious career in Major League Soccer or China.

Alvaro Morata has agreed a deal to join United and is now waiting for the club to negotiate a fee with Real Madrid.

United have made Morata their top target to replace Ibrahimovic.

Morata has told Real that he intends to leave and United hope a bid in the region of £60m will be enough to get the transfer over the line.

Morata has told friends that he expects to be playing at Old Trafford next season, linking up with Mourinho again.

He believes a move to United and guaranteed first-team football will enhance his prospects of starting for Spain at next year's World Cup.

Mourinho had considered rivalling Chelsea's move for Romelu Lukaku, but the Portuguese accepts the Belgian is likely to return to Stamford Bridge.

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