Transfer gossip is slowly bubbling away however it does seem that there have been very few (if any) credible stories. Assuming of course talks with Ellis Short go well for Gus Poyet and he leads our raid of the market – let’s have a look at the areas of our squad in desperate need of strengthening.
Given Lee Congerton’s reputation I think we will probably see a few youth players come in, but I can’t help but have major doubts over our spending power with so many holes needing to be filled with players leaving for nothing. I expect this to be a fairly cost-cutting way to make a build capable of staying up again, with perhaps more quality coming in next season. With Gus likely to have the bigger say, it surely won’t follow the same disastrous pattern as last summer! With any luck, other than those out-of-contact, we shouldn't see too may outgoings.
Oscar Ustari’s contract is due to expire soon, which would leave us with first choice Vito Mannone and youngster Jordan Pickford. It’s not ideal to go into the season without an established second choice keeper, so if we can wrap up Ustari on another deal it would be a nice quick-fix so we can focus our attentions elsewhere. If not, and if Gus doesn’t fancy placing his trust in Pickford, I’d hope we find a reasonable freebie somewhere.
No doubt defensive recruitment will be high on Poyet’s agenda. As it stands, we have one (soon to be out of contract) full back – and that’s Phil Bardsley. It’s a little up in the air whether or not our record Premier League appearance holder will sign a new deal and that probably hinges entirely on his willingness to take a pay cut. Reports suggest he currently earns a whopping £32k and if that’s what we would need to pay to keep him I’d be happier seeing him leave.
The good news here is that the signings of Marcos Alonso and Santiago Vergini are likely and both of these would be fairly low-cost for Sunderland. Whilst Vergini was impressive at right back last term, Poyet lavishing praise on him for playing out-of-position and early pledge to keep players in their favoured areas of the field would suggest he won’t be right back next season, but primarily a centre back perhaps used as cover on the right. So assuming Vergini is signed, I think it would still be necessary to recruit another centre back given Wes Brown’s age, unless Poyet discovers a decent player behind Valentin Roberge which seems unlikely.
We would still be short at right back and still need back up for Alonso. I suspect we would be after an out-and-out right back and another left back, possibly on loan – depending on what is available. Not Danny Rose unfortunately.
With Craig Gardner gone, Jack Colback likely to follow and Sebastian Larsson’s future in major doubt – we are hugely short in midfield. Alfred N’Diaye’s loan is due to end but it seems unlikely he will be here next season, although you’d like to think Poyet will give him the opportunity to at least impress in pre-season. Fabio Borini’s return is also looking unlikely, so we are seriously short in the middle.
We will probably see El-Hadji Ba play a bigger part next season and perhaps even Charis Mavrias to bulk up the squad. It would help a lot if Larsson or Colback (or both) can be persuaded into a new deal, but if they both leave it would force Gus into signing maybe three central midfielders. Perhaps it would be a blessing in disguise, whilst these players showed excellent form in our incredible survival – they are also the same players to have dragged us through relegation battle after relegation battle. I’d like to see a forward thinking midfielder and someone like Youssouf Mulumbu fill the gaps should they be needed.
A winger would be required too, with Adam Johnson and Emanuele Giaccherini the only senior ones we have. Will Buckley and Aaron Lennon have already been touted as possible options, though I hope the latter is pure speculation.
This position probably depends on whether Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher stay. Jozy Altidore is likely to be back in the mix after recent comments and the backing he has from Poyet.
Wickham will be going into the last year of his contract which puts us in a vulnerable position. A bigger team may well come in with a cut price bid and snatch him away if we can’t convince him to sign up for another few years. This is a massive, massive factor for us this transfer window because last season proved we can’t rely on Altidore and Fletcher up front – so we would have to spend big on a striker.
Regarding Fletcher, he is currently ‘working hard’ on his fitness, but it’s up in the air whether he is part of Poyet’s future plans. If he goes, but we keep Wickham, we might still get away with it depending on how Ignacio Scocco develops – otherwise a decent striker (perhaps on loan) would be necessary.
I think we need;
2x left back (one of which should be Alonso)
1x right back
2x centre back (one of which should be Vergini)
3x centre mid
So possibly up to ten players, that's assuming nobody signs a new contract and nobody else leaves. Busy summer ahead - again!
How many do you think we need? Leave us a comment below!