Belfast Telegraph

Defoe can be a Wearside legend, insists Moyes

By Damian Spellman

David Moyes has challenged Jermain Defoe to establish himself as a Sunderland great after revealing owner Ellis Short will not sell him this month at any price.

The 34-year-old striker has found himself in the headlines in recent days with former club West Ham having firmed up their interest in him with a £6m bid, which was instantly rejected.

Furthermore, the Hammers - and indeed any other interested parties - have been told Defoe, who has scored 11 Premier League goals so far this season, is simply not for sale.

Asked about the situation on a day when differing reports suggested the London club had both tabled an improved £13m bid and ended their interest, Moyes was unequivocal in his response.

He said: "We have had an offer and we told them that he wasn't for sale. It's come from the owner and we have said that he's not for sale.

"We have never asked for a second bid, we have never put a price on him. He's really important to us, everybody knows that and the club has already said that.

"There has been very little said from Sunderland Football Club. The talking has all come from other people, not from here."

When asked about talk of a £13m offer, Moyes said: "Totally wrong."

Defoe, who joined the Black Cats from MLS side Toronto in January 2015, signed a contract extension which will keep him at the Stadium of Light until the summer of 2019 in June last year, after his 15 goals helped the club fend off relegation.

However, Bilic's admiration, coupled with the fact that he grew up with the Hammers after joining them as a 16-year-old, have fanned the flames.

Through it all, the man himself has maintained his composure and Moyes is confident he will not be affected by the saga.

In addition, the Scot is hoping the goals will continue to flow and if they do, he is confident he can join the ranks of the exalted on Wearside alongside the likes of Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn.

"If he keeps scoring the goals at the rate he is, then he's going to put himself up there because of his goals and what he's done.

"This club has had some really good goalscoring centre forwards over the years, so I'm sure Jermain will want to get in amongst that group and he's got a great chance."

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