Sunday 19 November 2017

This is random! Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher to join Marseille on loan

Sunderland's Steven Fletcher could be on his way to Marseille
Sunderland's Steven Fletcher could be on his way to Marseille

Luke Edwards

Steven Fletcher has made arguably the most surprising move of the January transfer window when he left a place on Sunderland’s bench to sign for Marseille on loan until the end of the season.

The Scotland international only has six months left on his contract at the Stadium of Light and will not be offered a new deal, which meant the Black Cats were willing to let him move to the south of France to get him off the wage bill.

Fletcher has struggled to earn a place in the starting line up under Sam Allardyce, but Marseille believe he can improve their attacking options in Ligue 1. He will join two former Newcastle United wingers, Remi Cabella and Florian Thauvin at the Stade Velodrome and is interested in making the switch permanent if he settles in France.

Fletcher joined Sunderland for £12m from Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2012, but has struggled for fitness and goals, despite an impressive start to his career on Wearside under Martin O’Neill.

It is understood Fletcher has been told he will be given the chance to sign for Marseille permanently in the summer when he is a free agent, if he impresses between now and the end of the season. Celtic are also interested in signing the 28-year-old when he becomes available on a Bosman, although his wages could be a problem north of the border.

Sunderland were trying to sign a replacement for Fletcher in the final hours of the transfer window, although Allardyce allowed him to leave as Fabio Borini can play as a central striker if Jermain Defoe, Duncan Watmore and Dame N’Doye are absent at the same time.

Allardyce’s major disappointment on deadline day was missing out on Arsenal right-back Mathieu Debuchy, who was expected to return to France to sign for Bordeaux.

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