By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Fulham face a battle to hang on to Pavel Pogrebnyak in the summer as they do not have first option to sign the striker on a permanent deal, Goal.com can reveal.
Aston Villa and Sunderland are among the clubs closely monitoring the availability of the Russian, who has scored five goals in five games since moving to Craven Cottage on the final day of the January window.
Goal.com understands that Fulham tried and failed to reach an agreement with Pogrebnyak that the Londoners would have first option to buy him when his loan from Stuttgart expires in the summer.
Fulham are 12/1 to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday in the Premier League.
It is believed that the 28-year-old rejected the clause as he wanted to see proof of Fulham’s ambition before making a further commitment to the club.
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The German club wanted £3 million for the Russia international in January but Fulham were unable to agree a deal as the transfer deadline ticked down and are now faced with losing the player altogether.
"Fulham wanted to have the option to buy but the player didn’t want it," a source close to the situation told Goal.com. “He believed he could do well and the question is whether he sees enough ambition.
"The deal is working brilliantly for Fulham and they are trying to ensure he sees his future at the club."
Pogrebnyak has eased fears over the knee problems that affected him in Germany and manager Martin Jol has spoken warmly of the striker’s efforts since he replaced QPR-bound Bobby Zamora on deadline day.
"You want to keep your best players and I think he is certainly one of them,” said the manager earlier this month. “I am only happy that we made the right decision to sign him because you never know.
"There are so many strikers on the market and you have to get them when they are not at their peak. We certainly got him when he wasn't on his peak, but he is now so I am happy with that."
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