With lots of talk going around regarding players being brought into Sunderland this January, who needs to leave Gus Poyet’s squad?
It is well documented that the club have nine players coming to the end of their contracts in the summer and many will feel it is a great opportunity to get rid of the ‘dead wood’ that has occupied Sunderland’s squad over the past few years.
Most of the players out of contract are high earners at the club but the January window offers Ellis Short a fantastic opportunity to sell some of Sunderland’s average players and bring in people who can actually keep us up.
Andrea Dossena, Craig Gardner, Carlos Cuellar, Ji Dong-Won, Seb Larsson, David Vaughan, Keiren Westwood, Phil Bardsley and Jack Colback are all out of contract soon and five of these players need to go in January, mostly likely for nominal fees.
First up on my list is Craig Gardner. The plucky Englishman has never performed that badly in a red & white shirt but, equally, has never really put his name in headlines in any of the papers.
Gardner is our top scorer this calendar year but has seen his opportunities limited under Gus Poyet, with the Uruguayan preferring to play a midfield three of Seb Larsson, Jack Colback and Ki Sung-Yeung. The passing play that Sunderland have inherited does not really suit the former Birmingham City man, so it may be time that we sell up as it does not look like he will be offered another contract.
Second is Gardner’s former Aston Villa team-mate Carlos Cuellar, who has less than a year remaining on his current SAFC deal.
Like Gardner, Cuellar has always been reliable but not a spectacular player and has been out of favour in Poyet’s recent team selections. The ageing Spaniard has not really impressed when in the striped shirt this season. The Lads also have two ageing centre backs in John O’Shea and Wes Brown along with Modibo Diakite and Valentin Roberge, who have both seen their chances limited this season after coming in during the summer upheaval at the Stadium of Light.
With the centre back position relatively covered as far as numbers are concerned, it is unlikely that Cuellar gets offered another deal so if a fair offer comes in during the January window that enables him to continue his career elsewhere, then Mr Poyet should take it.
Next up is South Korean striker Ji who, apart from THAT goal against Manchester City, has never really done it on Wearside, often looking ill-suited to the Premier League when game time came his way.
Paolo Di Canio obviously believed the frontman had a future at the club if reports about the club rejecting a £5 million bid from Borussia Dortmund for Ji in the summer are to be believed.
Now, though, Ji looks to be heading on his way of out of Wearside after an un-successful career at the Stadium of Light. A loan bid could come in during the winter window which could at least get part of his wages off the bill and see his contract out.
The penultimate man in this list may be the most surprising, but Seb Larsson could be about to leave the club.
Although he has played in Poyet’s three man midfield during the last couple of games, the Swede has never been able to re-capture his first season form with the Black Cats, where he was one of our top scorers after being brought in by Steve Bruce, who left the club soon afterwards.
Larsson can often go missing in games and fails to provide that creative spark in midfield that a player of his calibre should be doing, week-in, week-out. He does have a spell of decent games where we all believe that he is back to his old-self. However, he soon slips back into the hand waving craze that he does so often in games.
The former Arsenal youth product will be a high earner and it remains to be seen if Sunderland offers him a new deal soon but there are definitely better choices out there that the club could bring in instead the Swede.
Finally, it’s David Vaughan, whose career has been on something of a downward spiral ever since his exquisite volley in last season’s 3-0 over Newcastle United.
The Welshman is currently out on loan to Nottingham Forrest until the end of January. The Championship club may make a bid for him or could try and get him on another loan spell and snap him up on a free transfer in the summer. As Sunderland got him on a free transfer, it would not represent a bad loss.
However, Vaughan never really lived up to his ball-playing, creative standards that he achieved at Blackpool before arriving at Sunderland. In fact, Vaughan was named Blackpool’s player of the year over Charlie Adam in their Premier League season a few years ago.
The Welshman has been a major disappointment on Wearside for most of his short career at the SoL and should be allowed to leave if the right offer comes in for him.
If we manage to get rid of the players mentioned above in the next transfer window, it will cut down the wage bill enough to allow Poyet to bring in some of his players and try and get us out of the mess we are currently in.
Fancy writing for We Are Wearside? We're always looking for talented writers to guest post or join our team, if you're interested - get in touch!