Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has spoken frankly about the speculation linking Crystal Palace to Sunderland’s Josh Maja, saying that he has never heard of the 20-year-old but that the Palace scouting team might say otherwise.
The Black Cats youth graduate is out of contract in the summer, leading to suggestions that they could look to cash in now rather than lose him for a compensation fee in five months – especially after reports of the player having knocked back the offer of a new contract.
BREAKING: Sunderland striker Josh Maja has told Sunderland this lunchtime he will NOT be signing their contract offer. 15-goal Maja had until today to give his final answer to the club. Sunderland offered him seven times his current wage to stay.
— Keith Downie (@SkySports_Keith) January 4, 2019
The youngster has had a hugely impressive season so far, scoring 14 goals in 22 appearances as Sunderland look to bounce straight back up from League One, and Palace have become the latest in a long line of clubs to be linked with his signature.
If Palace are looking to make a move on the player, however, then Hodgson says it’s news to him.
“I’ve never heard of him. I don’t follow Sunderland and his name has not been mentioned to me,” the former England manager told Shields Gazette.
“I’m not going to stand here and answer questions about individuals and names.
“The fact is it’s not my job to scout players. I’m sure if you ask our scouting department and our head of scouting about Josh Maja, he would tell you chapter and verse about him.
“But no one has mentioned his name to me, I don’t spend my time watching Sunderland play.”
Hodgson’s focus, instead, remains on Palace’s form, which has taken a pivotal upswing in recent weeks.
Three wins in five Premier League games, including a shock 3-2 victory over Manchester City, have moved them up to 14th in the table, and they also booked their place in the FA Cup draw after a narrow victory over Grimsby Town at the weekend.