According to reports, Sunderland are desperate to lure Andy Carroll from West Ham United during the January transfer window.
Despite an initial upturn in fortune when Sam Allardyce replaced Dick Advocaat earlier this season, the Black Cats lost all five of their December fixtures although they have started the new calendar year with a 3-1 win over fellow strugglers Aston Villa. These three points have given them a boost in their quest to avoid relegation, yet they remain second-bottom.
Allardyce has been told he has cash to spend during the transfer window as he looks to retain Premier League football at the Stadium of Light, and according to The Mirror, he is desperate to add Carroll to his options. Only the three sides immediately around them have scored fewer goals than the 22 registered by the Wearside club, a situation which needs to improve.
Carroll has endured a difficult time at Upton Park since his arrival from Liverpool, initially on loan, in 2012, as injuries have restricted him to just 65 league appearances. However, he remains a handful when fit and firing, as proved with two goals in his last two outings for the Londoners, and at the age of just 26, there is the potential that his best years remain ahead of him.
The Mirror claim that the Hammers have told their manager Slaven Bilic to offload from his existing squad if he wants to spend this month, and the Croatian is willing to sacrifice Carroll who reportedly earns £90,000-per-week. But the capital club have slapped an £18million price tag on his head, as they want to make a profit on the £15million they paid for his signature.
It is also reported that Newcastle United are keen to take Carroll back to St James Park, despite the reaction of their supporters when he left for Liverpool in a £35million deal in 2011. A return to his boyhood club is one which has been mooted for some time now, and is likely to appeal to a player who undoubtedly played the best football of his career on Tyneside.
On the other hand, Carroll will also be aware that Allardyce is a long-term admirer having signed him for the Hammers in the first place when Wilfried Bony was available for less. But he will also know that by making a move to Sunderland he will burn his bridges with Newcastle once and for all, such is the intense rivalry between the two clubs and their set of supporters.