SUNDERLAND face a battle to keep hold of Jobe Bellingham this summer amid increasing interest from Premier League clubs.

Crystal Palace and Brentford have both identified the teenager as a summer target on the back of his impressive first season at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats are determined to keep hold of Bellingham this summer but their resolve looks set to be tested in the coming months.

Bellingham's contract length wasn't disclosed when the youngster joined from Birmingham City 12 months ago, but it's understood he still has several seasons to run on the deal, so Sunderland are in a strong position.

Mike Dodds previously warned clubs Premier League clubs they'd have to pay mega-money to tempt Sunderland into letting go of their stars this summer.

The former interim head coach said: "It's really clear that if anyone wants to come and take a Sunderland player then they're going to have to pay the premium because whoever it is, you're talking about a young player who has already done well but still has the potential to develop further.

"You're also talking about a player with time on their contract so when you put those three things together, it's clear that you would have to pay a premium."


Director of football Dougie Freedman is leading Crystal Palace's chase for Bellingham after the pursuit of the 18-year-old was given the green light by boss Oliver Glasner. Palace have had success in signing top talent from the EFL, with Adam Wharton the latest star to shine at Selhurst Park after being plucked from the Championship.

Brentford are also said to be keen on Bellingham, with the teenager's versatility appealing to the Bees. Bellingham played in midfield, as a No.10 and up-front for Sunderland in his first season on Wearside.

Dodds previously backed Bellingham to establish himself as Sunderland's No.9 next season.

Sunderland are now braced for bids for both Bellingham and Jack Clarke this summer, with the winger also in-demand on the back of his excellent individual campaign on Wearside. Lazio failed in a move for Clarke in January and have also been linked with Bellingham.

Sunderland's incoming head coach will no doubt want assurances on the club's plans for their star players. It remains unclear who'll replace Michael Beale in the Stadium of Light dugout, with reports this week claiming a deal has been agreed with Raphael Wicky understood to be wide of the mark. Sunderland haven't held talks with Wicky and the process of appointing a new boss continues.