Sunderland must do all they can to keep strike duo Maja and Asoro

Promising Sunderland striker Joel Asoro – as well as his team-mate Josh Maja – are summer targets for North East rivals Newcastle United, as per the Daily Mail. 

Sunderland are all but relegated to League One and losing the duo would be a major blow to Chris Coleman’s hopes of taking his side back to the second tier at the first time of asking.

What’s the story, then?

The report claims that Newcastle believe the pair are better than the hitmen of the same age on their books and have sent scouts to examine their progress in recent weeks.

It continues and says that their Sunderland contracts have little more than a season left to run on them. Sunderland have offered them long-term deals and are remaining confident that they will both sign.

Coleman has apparently told the pair that they would be better served remaining part of his first-team plans – even in League One – than going to a Premier League club (Arsenal and Watford are both apparently sniffing around) would be better for their development.

Sunderland have to keep them

Asoro – valued at £1.35m by Transfermarkt – and Maja (£225k) have been rare bright spots in another depressing season at the Stadium of Light that looks set to end in a second straight relegation.

There are no shortage of experienced players on high wages who will have to be trimmed from the wagebill in the third tier so Coleman has to build his hopes around these two, as well as youngsters such as Ethan Robson, Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman.

Those hungry and unassuming players should be the bedrock of a team that gets the pride back among the fans in the North East. Losing them would be another body blow ahead of a long slog of a season.

If the pair joined Sunderland’s greatest rivals, then the pill would be even more bitter. It cannot be allowed to happen but this is Sunderland, so anything is possible.