Just a week or so on from Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson claiming not to know who he was, reports are now suggesting that the club’s Sporting Director Dougie Freedman will go to watch Sunderland striker Josh Maja before deciding whether or not to bid for him during the January window.
Born in Lewisham, the 20-year-old spent time on the books at both Crystal Palace and Fulham as a teenager before taking the plunge and moving to the Stadium of Light, where he signed professional terms back in 2016. He has been there ever since but with his three-year contract set to come to an end this summer, it looks as though the youngster is stalling over whether or not to put pen to paper on another deal in the North East.
Crystal Palace sporting director Dougie Freedman will watch Sunderland's Josh Maja on Saturday as they weigh up an approach for the 20-year-old striker
— Ed Aarons (@ed_aarons) January 10, 2019
Having bagged a mightily impressive 16 goals already this term, interest is mounting in him but with no concrete bids on the table as of yet, both he and the Black Cats have little choice but to carry on as normal in the hope of winning more games along the push for promotion back to the Championship in May. It would be easy for Maja himself to find his game hampered by the speculation but if possible, he should put it to the back of his mind until he and his representatives are given a viable opportunity to change things.
Speaking from a purely personal perspective, I’m not sure hearing that the Crystal Palace manager “had never heard of him” will have painted a particularly positive image in the mind of Josh Maja but it may well just be a huge (albeit risky) bluff from the former England boss to throw the press off the scent in relation to our interest.
Quite how much we’d be asked to pay to secure Josh’s services, given the time-sensitive nature of his contract with Sunderland is up for debate but with a promotion push to worry about, we may well see their mid-season valuation upped significantly from what you would consider to be the norm for a player of his pedigree.
The third-placed Black Cats face a top of the table clash with promotion rivals Luton this weekend and with the Hatters having just lost their manager to Stoke, the hosts will likely be relishing the prospect of leapfrogging them into second place. Should Maja get himself on the score-sheet he may well be the subject of an actual bid shortly after; I’ll be keeping a close eye on it for sure.