Wigan Athletic pipped to signature of Leeds United striker Joe Gelhardt by Sunderland

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Sunderland have completed the loan signing of Leeds United forward Joe Gelhardt - ending any hopes of him making a return to Wigan Athletic.

The 20-year-old is their third signing of the January window, with the Black Cats sat just one point outside the play-off places in ninth with 18 games left to play.

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Gelhardt arrived at Elland Road from Wigan in 2020, and after playing in the Leeds youth set-up, he made his Premier League debut in October 2021.

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Joe Gelhardt celebrates scoring his first senior goal for Latics at HullJoe Gelhardt celebrates scoring his first senior goal for Latics at Hull
Joe Gelhardt celebrates scoring his first senior goal for Latics at Hull

He has made 15 league appearances so far for Jesse Marsch’s team this season and could make his Sunderland debut against Millwall next week.

“I know how big the club is and I’m really looking forward to meeting the lads and trying to help," Gelhardt told the club's official website.

“I spoke with the head coach and the playing style seemed a perfect fit for me.

“I’ve watched Sunderland on the TV this season and seen some positive, attacking football and I can’t wait to get involved.”

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Black Cats boss Tony Mowbray added: “It is no secret that Joe had plenty of options on the table this month, so it is a testament to the club and its staff that he felt Sunderland was the best move for him.

“He has made an impact at Premier League level throughout the past 18 months and he is a really exciting signing, who fits our playing style and will complement a forward line that is already packed with talent.

“I’m sure the fans can’t wait to see him in action and we are looking forward to supporting his development.”

Latics had been hopeful of bringing the 20-year-old forward 'home' for the rest of the season.

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They thought they'd managed to agree a deal earlier this month, only for Leeds to seemingly go cold on the idea.

Finances were not thought to be the stumbling block, with Latics having the funds to meet the requirements of the deal.

But it’s believed a number of clubs, at home and abroad, further up the food chain showed their hand, with Leeds - perhaps understandably - wanting him to play at as high a level as possible.

Latics remain in the hunt for attacking players ahead of next Tuesday’s transfer deadline.