A lot has been made since last season, not least by us at Roker Report, of the system that Martin O'Neill may choose to employ next season It's also fair to say that, at one time or another, we've all mentioned a 4-3-3, with a target man surrounded by exciting players.
Okay, so we have McClean and Sessegnon that fit the bill, but if we wanted more conventional wingers, then Sess' just doesn't fit the system, and he may actually be the man up top anyway, we await further news on that front.
However, it got me to thinking about who could be employed on the right of the three. Although we have all, at some point, worshipped the right boot of one Sebastian Larsson, he's never going to be an all-action winger, taking people on and creating a buzz like McClean does on the left. Infact, in my eyes, he's probably more at home as part of a central three, where he can get forward, but also put his range of passing to good use.
Anyway... I digress. Here's my idea. There's a player that has caught the eye in a recent tournament who is out of contract with his current club. A player that looks exciting, yet has real quality too. I will go no further, join me after the jump to hear why I think Sunderland should be looking to sign Dimitris Salpingidis.
They say that teams should never buy a player on the strength of a good tournament. Mr O'Neill actually said it himself before Euro 2012 started. Looking at the past, you can see where he's coming from. Karel Poborsky and Phil Babb are just two names that spring to mind when you trawl through the memory banks.
But, a quick look at the Greek winger/striker's career stats suggest that Salpingidis' success at Euro 2012 was no accident. With Greece looking pretty poor in the first half of their opening clash with Poland, he was introduced at half time and turned the game around, scoring within six minutes and winning the penalty that could have handed his team all three points.
He also scored from the spot against Germany in Greece's quarter final, but what is arguably the most impressive moment of his tournament was setting up Samaras to score in the same game. For a player to have the ability to put in a ball so good that Georgios Samaras can put the ball past Manuel Neuer is, quite frankly, incredible.
As I was saying though, it is not just on the international stage that Salpingidis has impressed. In his first seven years at PAOK, despite only making 103 appearances, he notched 50 goals, a rather handsome amount when he doesn't always play as an out-and-out striker. A 2000-2002 loan spell at Kavala also saw him record a handsome record, with 25 goals in only 43 appearances.
The goals have flowed throughout his career, and he can boast a record showing 130 goals so far. Although he is 30 years old, that's still some amount for a player in his position. In fact, his headed winner against Tottenham for PAOK in 2011 put him at the top of the leaderboard for Greek players scoring in Europe.
Although Wikipedia (and we all know how reliable that can be at times) claims that Salpingidis signed a four-year contract upon his return to PAOK from Panathinaikos in 2010, his deal only seems to run to 2013, meaning that a bid now wouldn't need to be huge. Transfer rumours today have already linked him with a move to Wigan, Norwich, Stoke, West Ham and Reading. The interest is there, so we should strike quickly to get our man.
With McClean a dead cert to start on the left, to have genuine, line-hugging pace on either wing would be great to watch at the Stadium of Light, especially is someone like Steven Fletcher was to sign, too. To have a man who knows where the goal is feeding off two lightning-quick wingers with excellent delivery is a thought that has quite honestly got me drooling.
Whether O'Neill sees that formation as the way to go, we'll have to wait and see. It also raises the question of what to do with Sessegnon, but that's for someone else to discuss.
For me, Salpingidis would be a big hit at the Stadium of Light, and one that wouldn't break the bank either. His record speaks for itself, and although he is already 30, he seems to still have plenty in the tank, and could be a real star. His performances at Euro 2012 were always going to get him noticed, I just hope that it isn't just me who has seen him as a potential hit from a Sunderland point of view.
PS: Although I had him as my Twitter avatar for the tournament, I can assure you, I'm not biased. Well, not that much.