JAMES McClean continues to enjoy a never ending rollercoaster ride at the Stadium of Light, but while the 22-year-old signed a new contract on Friday last, the “Black Cats” are believed to have made tentative enquiries to the “Candy Stripes” in an effort to buy-out Derry’s sell-on clause should the winger move on!
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
And since that deal was thrashed out with the player’s agents, Sunderland are now interested in buying-out Derry’s 15 per cent agreement given the player’s recent rise to stardom on Wearside.
While the Brandywell club last night refused to discuss the approach from the “Black Cats,” it’s believed Sunderland may be prepared to pay the “Candy Stripes” an additional £500,000 up front in an effort to buy-out Derry’s 15 per cent sell-on.
However, while no-one at the Brandywell was prepared to comment publicly on the issue, reliable sources have suggested that the Derry Board of Directors have opted not to get involved in the proposed negotiations.
But the tentative enquiry does not come as a major shock and now that McClean is believed to have had his wages trebled as part of the new deal, Sunderland believe they potentially have a top quality player on their books, one who could well net them in excess of £10 million in a future transfer deal.
And should McClean leave Sunderland bound for a top tier club for a similar figure, then Derry City would receive the tidy sum of £1.5 million as their part of the deal!
In fact, the sale of the Creggan Heights man last August has proven to be hugely profitable for the Lone Moor Road club. Sunderland initially agreed a straightforward transfer fee of £350,000 with significant add-on clauses.
In terms of competitive appearances, the “Black Cats” agreed to pay Derry £10,000 for every “full competitive appearance,” up to a total of £100,000 and that target has already been reached!
In addition, the player’s decision to declare for the Republic of Ireland also carries additional finance for the “Candy Stripes.”
Derry will receive a total of £75,000 should McClean make 15 international competitive appearances during his contract at the Stadium of Light and that figure has been broken down to three payments of £25,000 each time he makes five appearances.
And . . . wait for it, there’s more . . . . should Sunderland finish in the top eight places in the Premiership this season - or any season while McClean is there - Derry would receive another £100,000 provided the winger has played in 50 per cent of the games - that’s 19 of 38 fixtures.
Interestingly, the “Black Cats” currently occupy eighth place in the Premiership and if Derry were to achieve that target this season, then James would need to play in six of the remaining eight league games having already enjoyed 13 league appearances.
Congratulations from O’Neill
While it all makes very interesting reading for Derry, Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill was the first to congratulate the Creggan man once he put pen to paper on Friday last.
“I think it’s great news for James,” said O’Neill. “He has secured improved terms and he certainly deserves that. It’s great news for the club because we believe we have potentially a top quality player in our midst,” he added.
“James can improve and he will have to because the other Premier League teams now know all about him. For example, Blackburn doubled up on him in our recent defeat, knowing he would be a major threat and these are the things he will have to cope with in the foreseeable future.
“We believe James is worthy of the recognition, we believe he won’t be affected by the new deal and, indeed, we hope he will go on to do brilliant things at Sunderland.
“Who knows what might happen in the future, but this is an opportunity for James to play regularly and by doing so, he will be repaying us. It’s a good deal for everyone concerned because James is going to play here and, from our point of view, we would dearly like to have someone in his position to make him fight for his place. At the moment he is in the team and he deserves to be there, but he is not the type of guy who will rest on his laurels,” continued O’Neill.
Describing his rise to prominence as “meteoric,” O’Neill also referred to his former club.
“It’s been a meteroic rise for him as he has come from almost nowhere and I don’t mean Derry City, when saying that. I mean he’s been here for a few months sitting on the bench, but didn’t get on.
“So to come in and play the game without any fear has been great. First of all, maybe he expected it but he has done fantastically well and he thoroughly deserves the new contract. It’s now very important that he continues to progress which is easier said than done,” concluded the Sunderland boss.
Meanwhile, McClean is currently focusing his attentions on a very important FA Cup quarter-final replay, which will be staged at the Stadium of Light tonight.
Sunderland will host Everton after the first game ended in a 1-1 result at Goodison Park. And opposing the 22-year-old will be another Derry man, Darron Gibson and, possibly, centre-half Shane Duffy, who could occupy a place on the Everton substitutes’ bench.
The winners of tonight’s fixture, which will be screened ‘live’ on ITV, will travel to Wembley for a high profile semi-final clash against Liverpool.