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Sunderland Recruitment: Upcoming Transfer Window Must Be a Huge Improvement  

IMAGO / Focus Images MEDIA ID: 1036809683 Kristjaan Speakman Sunderland's sporting director

Sunderland’s transfer recruitment and outgoings during the last two transfer windows have been at best mediocre. In have come young players not ready for the rigours of Championship or English football and out have gone experienced pros. 

This summer Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman and his recruitment team must get the balance correct and address areas where Sunderland have been lacking for some time.

Sunderland Recruitment: Upcoming Transfer Window Must Be a Huge Improvement 

The Sunderland Recruitment Model

Sunderland’s model is to buy young players with the hope of improving them and selling them at a profit. The club are reluctant to sign a player over the age of 24. Going forward, if the club is to progress, this model needs to be amended.

The Championship is a tough league and many youngsters, especially those from other countries have struggled with its pace and physicality. For the upcoming summer transfer window, if Sunderland and their fans are to see an improvement from the disappointing 23/24 season, some experienced first-team-ready players will need to be brought into the club to complement those promising youngsters.

Summer 2023 Incomings

Following defeat in the Championship playoffs, Sunderland fans had hoped to see the squad improved to either reach the playoffs once again or push for automatic promotion. However, a host of inexperienced players arrived, many of whom were unfamiliar with Championship or English football.

Goalkeeper: Nathan Bishop (23 years old at the time of signing)

Defenders: Nectarios Triantis (20), Jenson Seelt (20) and Timothy Pembele (20). 

Midfielders: Jobe Bellingham (17), Bradley Dack (29), Adil Aouchiche (21)

Attackers: Eliezer Mayenda (18), Nazariy Rusyn (24), Mason Burstow (20) and Luís Semedo (19).

Of the players bought, keeper Bishop has been an understudy to Anthony Patterson. Triantis went on loan to Hibernian in January along with striker Mayenda who had failed to impress or score. Dack, Seelt and Pembele have been injured for long spells and the other three strikers brought in scored a combined three goals. 

Only teenager Jobe Bellingham has been a regular first-team starter, playing 3,644 minutes, while Adil Aouchiche has featured mainly from the bench. Only Bradley Dack had any notable experience of the Championship and is set to be released following an injury-plagued season.

Outgoings (Permanent)

Leaving the club included players who had served the club well and had been instrumental in promotion to the Championship and reaching the playoffs in their first season. This included striker Ross Stewart. The Scottish international had been prolific but injuries saw him miss much of the previous season. The decision to sell was expected; however, a replacement has yet to arrive.

The experienced and versatile Lynden Gooch left for Stoke City. Highly experienced defender and player of the season Danny Batth signed for Norwich City and another experienced defender Bailey Wright was released.

Prolific striker Ross Stewart signed for Southampton in a £10 million deal while defender/midfielder Carl Winchester and winger Leon Dajaku also left.

January 2024

Once again, Sunderland stuck to their model of buying young players with potential. Those who arrived have provided depth to the squad but once again another window came and went without a first-team-ready striker arriving. 

 The Black Cats also lost another experienced player in midfielder Alex Pritchard.


Leo Hjelde (20), Romaine Mundle (20), Callum Styles (23)

Outgoings (Permanent)

Alex Pritchard

Areas That Must be Addressed This Summer

A First-Team-Ready Striker or Two

Since signing Ross Stewart, Sunderland have gone six transfer windows without signing a striker ready to play first-team football. Even when Stewart had been injured and had been the club’s only recognised striker, Sunderland failed to recruit a replacement. 

Defensive Midfield

Sunderland have signed several midfielders over the past three transfer windows; however, a defensive midfielder has eluded them. Captain Corry Evans was injured in January 2023 and only made his comeback in the second-to-last game of the 2023/24 season. 

Evans is set to be released this summer making the need to recruit a player in his mould that is capable of playing in a defensive role even more important.

Depending on who leaves Wearside this summer, other positions could also quickly become very important to fill with first-team-ready players

Transfer Rumours

As with any transfer window, the rumour mill will gather pace the closer we reach its opening on June 14th. However, as is normally the case, as soon as a season is over, the talk turns to who could be arriving and leaving. At Sunderland, it is no different.

Potential Incomings

The Black Cats have been linked with former Barcelona forward Ian Poveda who will become a free agent this summer. Spanish newspaper Dario AS has reported that the Columbian is a target for the Black Cats and several other clubs.

German outlet Bild has reported that Sunderland are interested in 18-year-old midfielder Elias Lenz who is currently with RB Leipzig. According to the report the U19 captain has already had a trial on Wearside.

QPR midfielder Chris Willock is one of Sunderland’s main targets this summer according to the Sunderland Echo. The 26-year-old is soon to be a free agent.

Potential Outgoings

Winger Jack Clarke has been linked with a move away from the club since last summer; however, no bids received matched the club’s valuation. He still has two years on his current contract and following another impressive season, he will undoubtedly be linked with a move once again. Sunderland do not need to sell this summer; however, it is likely his valuation will decrease as his contract gets closer to expiring.

Young midfielder Jobe Bellingham has been linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund according to Football Insider. The German giants have a history of developing young talents including his brother Jude who improved to the point where he is now at Real Madrid and is on course to be one of the best in the world.

According to the Sunderland Echo, Sheffield United, relegated from the Premier League, have been credited with having a strong interest in goalkeeper Anthony Patterson.

Defender Dan Ballard and midfielder Pierre Ekwah have been linked with a move to newly promoted Ipswich Town. The Sunderland Echo has claimed that the offer reportedly suggested for the pair of £8 million would be way short of their valuation. Both are under contract on Wearside until 2027.

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