Altidore eyes Premier League return with Sunderland

Jozy Altidore (left) clashes with Alan Hutton.
Jozy Altidore (left) clashes with Alan Hutton.

SUNDERLAND target Jozy Altidore has admitted it would be a “pleasure” to return to the Premier League – three years after his stint in England ended infamously against the Black Cats.

American international Altidore is one of Sunderland’s principle attacking targets this summer after the striker netted 31 goals for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar last season.

Italian giants Lazio are also reportedly keeping tabs on the 23-year-old, who is rated in the £6-7million bracket by Alkmaar.

But Altidore has spoken of the appeal of the Premier League after spending the 2009-10 campaign on loan at Hull City – his final appearance coming in a 1-0 defeat to Sunderland where he was sent off for headbutting Alan Hutton.

“It is a fantastic league, anyone will tell you that,” said Altidore.

“If you look at everything, the Premier League is probably the biggest league in the world. Everybody knows that and it would be a pleasure to play in a league like that again.”

Altidore netted just once in 28 Premier League appearances for Hull after being sent out on loan by Spanish side Villarreal, who had brought the New York Red Bulls product to Europe.

But the frontman looks back on his campaign at the KC Stadium favourably, hailing it as a learning curve.

Altidore, who scored in each of the USA’s three World Cup qualifying games earlier this month, has certainly shown his prowess in Holland with 38 goals in 59 starts in the Dutch league.

“I think I was 19 or just turned 20 and I had not played in Europe before that. It is a totally different style from the MLS,” added Altidore to American radio station NASN.

“I have come a long way since then. I am almost a different player and I have learned a lot. So I don’t think there is any resemblance to that time if I went back to the league any time soon.

“I have played 100-plus games (since Hull).

“Playing there at that age and playing in the best league in the world, you can’t expect to hit the ground running.

“Some of my performances at Hull were not as bad as people think, some of them were actually pretty good.

“I don’t look back at it as a sad experience. It was a great experience because I got to see what the highest level was like.”