£30m Sunderland target unlikely to be daunted by price tag

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David Moyes has an urgent need to find a striker or two to support Jermain Defoe at Sunderland.

The new Black Cats manager only has the former Tottenham goalscorer as a senior option heading into the season and appears to have settled on Burnley’s Andre Gray as a primary target.

Gray, who scored 23 goals for Burnley as the Clarets claimed the Championship title last season, has a £30m price tag according to the Sunderland Echo.

Although shelling out such a chunky wedge on a player with no top-flight experience may appear risky, the 25-year-old has proved before that he is capable of making leaps to match expectations.

Brentford bought the Wolverhampton native for their 2014/15 Championship campaign despite Gray spending much of his career prior to that in non-league football with Luton.

He netted 16 league goals for the Bees that term, prompting Sean Dyche to shell out £9m for the striker the following summer.

The pressure of such a relatively hefty second-tier price tag clearly had little effect on Gray’s form in front of goal at Turf Moor, as promotion back into the Premier League was confirmed.

Since the title was sealed, the Clarets have remained curiously quiet on the transfer front. Losing their star frontman is therefore the last thing the 17/20 relegation candidates need with the new campaign on the horizon.

Like Burnley, Sunderland have had a dormant summer, which is unusual for them. Eight players have departed the north-east to date, with no new faces arriving to replace them.

Both Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham are among those to have left the Stadium of Light, so finding attacking recruits will be one of Moyes’ biggest priorities.

Defoe was a huge part of Sunderland’s survival last season, scoring 15 goals for Sam Allardyce’s team as they finished 17th.

That haul was 10 clear of second-top scorer Fabio Borini and an over-reliance on the 33-year-old could see the Black Cats struggle at the wrong end of the table once again.

We currently rate Sunderland at 1/3 to stay up this season, shorter than the 17/20 about Burnley.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.