After weeks of speculation, it looks like Jozy Altidore might have a serious suitor.
Sunderland has emerged as the leading candidate to sign the United States international, according to AZ Alkmaar director of football Earnest Stewart, who revealed that the Premier League club has sent AZ a transfer offer to acquire the young striker.
"Sunderland is a team that is interested in Jozy and that's pretty much where it stands now," Stewart told Goal. "They've made a bid for him."
Stewart admits that Sunderland's offer hasn't met AZ's valuation of Altidore, insisting that the two sides are "very few apart." Altidore is rumored to be available for 8-10 million euros and Stewart's openness to listen to offers is a very different stance than before. Two months ago, he told Goal that he wanted to keep Altidore and was hoping to sign him to a contract extension.
"We're still in the same situation but if someone comes in with the right price, that's the way football works," Stewart explained. "It's not like we can say that we're not going to sell anyone. If people come and hit the right price, then it can happen."
Altidore's value rocketed following his hot run of form during the United States' World Cup qualifying cycle in June. He scored in each of the team's three qualifying matches against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras and also had the opening goal in a friendly against Germany in May. Altidore had a breakout year with Alkmaar, scoring 31 goals in all competitions.
Still, even if AZ loses Altidore, the club's future could lie with another young American with potential. Stewart believes Aron Jóhannsson, a Icelandic-American, could be the next striker to replace Altidore.
"He's good, very good, that's why we have him. He's a typical center forward with good agility," Stewart said of Johannsson. "He's very cool - I guess all Icelandic players are - and at the same time he has a nose in front of goal.
"He's a player to be reckoned with and if Jozy would leave, we already have a striker that can fill his shoes in the future."
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