SPECULATION continues to surround the future of Sunderland winger Adam Johnson, with Monaco becoming the latest club linked with an interest in the ex-Manchester City man.
Liverpool, Everton and Hull City have already been mentioned in connection with the 26-year-old – a £10million signing by ex-manager Martin O’Neill two years ago.
And the big-spending French league runners-up last season have now been thrown into the mix as potential suitors.
Johnson was the only Sunderland player, apart from on-loan Liverpool striker Fabio Borini, to get into double figures for the Black Cats last season.
The winger also finished top of the assists league for Sunderland and a purple patch of form after the turn of the year not only helped keep the club’s Premier League survival hopes alive but also earned him the Barclays Premier League January Player of the Month award.
While Everton and Hull’s interest has only extended to a potential loan, Liverpool and Monaco have been credited with – and have the financial resources – to make an offer for a permanent deal.
Johnson said towards the end of last season that even if Sunderland were relegated he would be happy to stay with them in the Championship. But the fact that Johnson is being linked so widely with other clubs suggests Sunderland are testing the water for a possible sale.
Certainly, Sunderland could look to win back the bulk of the £10m invested in him.
And as one of the club’s biggest wage earners, any sale would help free up significant resources to aid Gus Poyet’s rebuilding programme.
The Uruguayan head coach is fully aware of the value of a player capable of changing a game with one piece of inspiration and he has got more out of Johnson than O’Neill or Paolo Di Canio.
But he may be tempted into letting Johnson go if the price is right and it means he can leap ahead with his recruitment plans.
Sunderland are in no rush to offload Johnson on the cheap and loan deals will not be entertained, but it is a long summer – the new Barclays Premier League season starts on August 16 – and it will interesting to see whether any of the big clubs take a punt on a player who already has a Premier League winners medal in his collection.