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January Transfer Window - Where Will We Strengthen?

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With the January transfer window upon us we take a look at where Sam Allardyce will look to strengthen his squad.

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What We Know

With Lee Congerton placed on 'gardening leave' little over a week ago, this is the first transfer window since that Sunderland face without him conducting our business. It would appear that Sam Allardyce has full control over our dealings, and it has been noted that Sam has been abroad in recent weeks to scout potential signings, particularly in France and Germany.

When questioned about where he'll be looking to bring in players from, Allardyce noted that he'll likely look to the European market in order to bolster his faltering squad. He told the South Shields Gazette:

Probably, it’ll have to be from abroad, by the looks of what’s about and available in this country," said Allardyce.

I think it would be very difficult to secure a player from any club in the Premier League because I don’t think they’d want to let anybody go.

So for me it looks like it might be from abroad, and then see where we go from there.

Allardyce has acknowledged that his priority lies in recruiting a central defender first and foremost:

It starts with the front but the backline and the goalkeeper have to be the ones that ultimately secure those clean sheets, so a defender’s my first priority, a central defender.

Then we’ll move on from there.

Whether we can find one good enough is another matter.

What Do We Need?

Well, as Allardyce has said, we're lacking in terms of numbers and quality at centre half and, for me, we need at least two recruits in that position in order for us to be well stocked. John O'Shea is thirty-five in April, and eventually we're going to have to bring in someone that can inevitably replace what he brings to the side. As brilliant as Younes Kaboul is, he's picked up five injuries since joining in the summer.

At right full back we are pretty well stocked with Billy Jones, DeAndre Yedlin and Adam Matthews to choose from, but at left back our only real option is Patrick Van Aanholt who has struggled for much of this season - it could be argued that Sam needs to strengthen his options in that position.

Up front, we're struggling for goals and although we have plenty of options none of our forwards seem to be able to hit the back of the net on a consistent basis, often finding ourselves too reliant on Jermain Defoe to come up with the goods. In my opinion we're sorely lacking a physical, hard working, quick forward and I'd be surprised if Sam isn't looking to recruit a player with those kinds of attributes.

Who have we been linked with?

The press have been fairly quiet thus far with regards to linking players to Sunderland - once the transfer merry-go-round is in full flow, however, we'll likely see the amounts of random transfer tittle-tattle increase in the coming weeks.

Lamine Kone

One player that has been linked by various news sources over recent weeks is Lorient defender Lamine Kone. Rumours of a move to Sunderland for the Ivory Coast international defender appeared first in reputable French newspaper L'Equipe two weeks ago, with Sam Allardyce acknowledging to the local press that he'd been to watch the player in action.

You can read our scout report on the player here - Kone is a player that very much suits the bill of a typical Sam Allardyce signing. Sam typically has French-African players in all of his teams and the attributes Kone would bring - a big, strong, physical style of defending - are exactly what our leaky defence is missing. Kone is only twenty-six years old, so in the prime of his career, and the rumoured fee of six million pounds seems fairly reasonable when compared with how much it would cost to sign a defender playing in England.

Jan Kirchhoff

News first broke of Sunderland's interest in Bayern Munich defender Jan Kirchhoff just over a week ago and many, like me, we're left wondering just who he was.

Kirchhoff is a towering defender, known for his prowess in the air and ability to play out from the back. Since signing for the German giants in the summer of 2013 on a free transfer from Mainz, Kirchhoff has played very little and has been plagued with injuries. Having spent two disappointing spells on loan at Schalke the former Germany youth international has barely featured since returning to his parent club and, with the player out of contract in the summer, he could be available for next to nothing.

The Daily Mail reported earlier this week that Allardyce has been to watch Kirchhoff train and is keen to see him play again before committing to a money deal, which makes perfect sense all things considered.

Joel Matip

Another defender from the Bundesliga linked with a move to Sunderland is Cameroon international Joel Matip, with the Daily Mirror reporting that the player has only six months remaining on his contract at Schalke.

Matip would certainly be an ambitious signing, considering the fact he's only twenty-four years old and a regular in in the Schalke side. The Cameroonian is known for his pace and aerial ability, and is rarely injured.

Whether any interest from Allardyce in Matip is concrete is another thing - quite often players get linked to the club in the press that we've had absolutely nothing to do with. That said, Matip is certainly the type of player, at the right age, that would significantly improve us. Lets wait and see.

Forward Options

Thus far there have been very few centre forwards linked to us. FC Utrecht target man Sebastien Haller was linked by the Daily Mirror earlier this month, whilst Hoffenheim prospect Kevin Volland has also been linked with a move here. With very little else said I'd suggest that this is nothing more than paper talk.

Late last night The Independent reported that Tottenham wide-man Andros Townsend was close to a move to Sunderland having seen opportunities limited this season. Townsend can play on either flank and his pace would be an asset if we are to play a counter attacking style under Allardyce.

Who should we sign? Who do you think we should sign? Who do you think may leave the club? Leave your comments below this article.