Jack Ross offers update on Maja’s future amidst Newcastle interest

Sunderland manager Jack Ross has offered an update on Josh Maja’s contract situation, as northeast rivals Newcastle emerge as a sudden shock potential destination.

What’s he said?

Ross spoke to the media following Saturday’s League One draw away to Charlton, in which Maja featured for the full 90 minutes despite turning down the club’s offer of a contract extension on Friday.

The Black Cats boss discussed the matter at length and noted that Maja has not asked to leave, but has simply not signed the new deal.

“Nothing has changed after everything that went on yesterday,” said Ross.

“I have been consistent in my communication publicly about my relationship with Josh about how I would view him from a footballing perspective regardless of whether he signed a new contract or not, and that was why I selected him today.

“You have to temper it by saying that he has chosen not to sign a new contract, but he hasn’t asked to leave the club – they are two very different things, and I think people should take that on board because it gets forgotten about.

“He has never come to me and said he doesn’t want to be here. As things stand, he has just not chosen to take the option to extend his contract.

“In terms of what happens next, I will just continue as is. There is no duress on us to get rid of him either from the owner or from my perspective as the manager, and I would hope that would continue to be the case because he is an asset to me on the pitch.”

Sunderland's Josh Maja celebrates scoring their first goal v Wycombe Wanderers

The risk of his exit grows larger

Although Ross noted that there is no urgency from the board or from himself to sell Maja, the risk of his exit is growing larger and larger by the day, mostly down to the influence of his agent, who told the 20-year-old star not to sign the contract.

In this situation, the only power the club holds over Maja’s future would be to either attempt to sell the striker or offer a vast increase in wages, beyond the deal he turned down on Friday.

The clock is ticking on his current terms, however, and if Sunderland cannot agree a new contract, then he will likely leave for free in the summer, with his agent showing great influence over his career and potentially scouting for clubs who will hand the youngster a mega-money move.

Newcastle a shock potential suitor

After Maja’s U-turn on Friday, Newcastle emerged as a potential shock suitor, along with fellow Premier League sides Crystal Palace and Huddersfield, who all need a new striker.

The trio are reportedly open to a £5million move if Sunderland warm to the idea of selling the forward in January, after he turned down a £5,000-a-week contract at the Stadium of Light.

Maja would join Javier Manquillo in a Tyneside switch to play for Rafa Benitez in black and white, having signed for the Magpies in 2017 after a loan spell with the Black Cats.