• Midfielder signs three-year contract at St James’ Park
• North-east rivals claim move has ‘left a bitter taste’
Newcastle United have confirmed Jack Colback is joining from Sunderland as a free agent. The midfielder is the first player recruited to Alan Pardew’s senior squad on a permanent contract for 18 months but his defection has left “a bitter taste” at Sunderland who feel badly let down by their academy graduate’s refusal to discuss a deal.
The 24-year-old has signed a five-year contract at St James’ Park where he will join Steven Taylor as a rare Geordie in a largely Francophone dressing room.
Taylor and co will no doubt tease Colback about a montage of photographs released by Sunderland’s Twitter feed showing him scoring in the Wearsider’s 3-0 win at St James’ in February and sticking three fingers up in celebration.
At least the left-footed player should add balance to Pardew’s side. “I’m absolutely delighted,” Colback said. “To come to the team I supported as a boy, my hometown team, will be really special for me. It was an opportunity I couldn’t let slip. If you asked fans around the world the one thing they’d like to do before they die, it would be to play for the team they support and I’ve got the chance to do that.
“I’ve only got good things to say about Sunderland, they gave me my chance and I want to thank the fans and the club for all their support. I hope they can understand the chance I’ve had here to move to my boyhood club. Now I can’t wait to pull on the black and white shirt at St James’ Park for the first time.”
Pardew seemed similarly thrilled. “I’m extremely pleased to have brought Jack to Newcastle United. He’s a great passer, versatile and rarely gives the ball away. He’s also a local lad and knows exactly what playing for this club means. And at 24 years old, his best years are ahead of him so I think he’ll be a big asset to us.”
Sunderland’s reaction was rather less euphoric. “Jack is a player we have nurtured and developed through our academy system since he was eight years old,” read a club statement. “We gave him the opportunity to become a professional footballer and are therefore extremely disappointed in the events that have led to his departure from the club.
“This wasn’t about money – the club agreed to all of the terms demanded of us during discussions and we were always led to believe that Jack wanted to stay with us. At his and his representatives’ request, final talks were put on hold until the club secured its top flight status. To our dismay however, we were subsequently never given the chance to negotiate with him to stay.
“For him to then leave the club that has supported him throughout his formative years in such a manner, with no chance for Sunderland to recover any of the significant investment that it has made in him as a player, has left a bitter taste.”