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Striking Options: If Not Fletcher, Then Who?

If it turns out we can't land Steven Fletcher, could Ola Toivonen be a suitable alternative?
If it turns out we can't land Steven Fletcher, could Ola Toivonen be a suitable alternative?

Pretty much as soon as the curtain fell on final day of last season speculation began that relegated Wolves' star forward Steven Fletcher would make an ideal addition to Martin O'Neill's squad, one which was looking worryingly bereft of options in the final third. Understandably Wolves are reluctant to let their man go for cheap and are looking to cash in on the Scottish forward. Conversely SAFC are justifiably, seemingly at least, unwilling to meet Wolves' initial exorbitant price tag and the situation has all the hallmarks of developing into something of a "transfer saga".

So what are the other options available to O'Neill and the Sunderland board should patience wear thin with Wolves' stubborn stance? Well lets have a look shall we?

As you will have noticed each Sunday here on Roker Report, Michael Graham provides all the latest updates from the old rumour mill. Using that as a base guide, lets have a quick run through the other players that Sunderland find themselves linked with who may provide an alternative to Fletcher.

Victor Moses

The winger/forward's time with Wigan is seemingly at an end, unwilling to enter into discussions towards a new contract and the club keen not to lose out on a transfer fee. Moses will be a familiar name with Sunderland fans as we have been linked with the player on several occasions previously. Unfortunately it would seem that Moses stock has rose to a level possibly beyond us now as clubs such as Chelsea and Arsenal appear poised to snap him up.

However if Moses was to join Sunderland it is debatable whether or not he would be able to lead the line and would probably be more useful to O'Neill as an addition to a midfield which is in need of some fresh creative, attacking intent.

John Guidetti

Next on the list is the much lauded young forward currently in need of playing time with Manchester City and the club willing to allow their man to move out for another loan spell. I'll be honest, I know very little of the young Swedish forward, however his record for Feyenoord last term, where he spent the season on loan, was pretty impressive and included three hat-tricks as he hit twenty goals.

Reports seem to indicate that O'Neill had his scouts watching Guidetti last season, so there may be some truth in the story. Whilst his addition on loan would be an agreeable move, I'm sure I'm not the only one who would rather we looked at getting the right man in on a full term deal as we seem to leave ourselves in the position each summer as the likes of Welbeck, Bendtner etc return to their parent club leaving us short.

Gabriel Agbonlahor

Another standard press piece linking O'Neill to an Aston Villa player or is there more substance to this speculation? Agbonlahor is a "funny" player in my eyes at least, form wise, some weeks he looks very capable and assured in front of goal, others his touch seems to desert him. However the stats seem to show that he played his best football whilst under the tutelage of O'Neill, where he managed to make double figures for three successive seasons.

With reports that Randy Lerner is keen to cut costs from a burgeoning wage bill there may be some truth to this one and if the price is right I'd be quite happy to see Gabby join the ranks.

Ola Toivonen

Sunderland fans will have seen Toivonen figure for his native Sweden during the European Championships and his signature is one O'Neill is keen to get his hands on if reports in the press are anything to go by. However competition would appear to be fierce as Spurs, Liverpool, Newcastle and Fiorentina are all also apparently interested.

Toivonen is another name I am not particularly familiar with, however at 6'2'' he would appear to fit the much fabled line that O'Neill loves a big man... ooer. The prices being talked about certainly seem within our reach at around £7m, however if one of the previously mentioned clubs were to show an interest you may imagine we would face an uphill challenge to bring Ola to Wearside.

Louis Saha

As a free agent Luis Saha is sure to generate some interest given his experience at the top level. O'Neill was previously quoted towards the end of last season as being keen to utilise free transfers and find value in that market, so the link with Saha seems to make some sense. However I am sure I am not the only one with some reservations and have my doubts that he is the man to lead our forward line week in week out. Sure, if Saha was to brought in as an option from the bench I would be fairly happy but if we were to put all of our trust in the thirty-three year old, especially with his injury record I'd be a little concerned.

Kevin Doyle

Next on the Captain's list of possible transfers is Fletcher's team mate and strike partner Kevin Doyle who whilst acting coy at present and declaring his desire to remain with the midlands club you would imagine he wouldn't turn down a return to the Premier League should Wolves decide to sell.

Reading also seem keen on the Irishman with McDermott a known long time admirer of his and a fee of around £5m has been muted. Whilst I admire Doyle's workrate and effort I have my doubts that he is the right man for our vacant striker's position and would much rather we pursued Fletcher if we are to be sending any cheque to Molineaux.

Ricky Van Wolfswinkel

With easily the best name of the lot, RVW has found himself the latest man to be touted as joining O'Neill's side. Ricky is easily the most exciting player that we have been linked with so far and Sporting Lisbon seem set to cut their loses following a disappointing term and willing to accept bids lower than their original valuation of £15m

However the player himself has declared a desire to remain in Portugal and the likes of Manchester United have been linked with the highly rated forward as well as Spurs and Newcastle (anyone else notice a pattern emerging?), so you would imagine Sunderland would really need to put together an attractive contract to entice the Dutchman to Wearside.


So if you were in O'Neill's shoes would you be prepared to play the waiting game with Wolves over Fletcher and hope the two clubs can come to a realistic agreement or would you rather we pursued one of the other options that have been suggested? Or has someone completely different caught your eye? Let us know!

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