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OPINION: Four Players Sunderland Should Target This Summer

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With the transfer season upon us, Graeme Atkinson highlights four targets who could help develop the side.

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Four Players SAFC Should Sign This Summer

Now we've all got used to the idea that Advocaat has returned as head coach let's turn our attention to the transfer market and specifically four players that Sunderland could realistically sign.

Virgil Van Dijk

A player that has been linked with us for sometime.  A few notable Premier League teams are understandably coveting Van Dijk, a central defender with a reputation for playing with assuredness beyond his years as well as for being head and shoulders above his peers in respect of quality too.

According to press, Spurs and Southampton are just a couple of those interested.  Celtic are looking for £10million for their prize asset but it's likely any suitor could close a deal at around the £8million mark if the arrangement was right for all parties. Cue Congerton, who perhaps, as we've recently speculated, could offer Steven Fletcher as a make-weight in the deal putting us in a strong position at the bargaining table.

Micah Richards

Having just returned from a loan spell at Fiorentina, the Manchester City defender is unlikely to return to Italy this summer.  In fact all the noises appearing to come from the Richards camp are that the 26-year-old is looking to play regular games even if it means turning down the opportunity to re-join his former mentor Roberto Mancini, now at Inter.

Richards falls into the same catergory as Jack Rodwell. Both were tipped to be England regulars and both simply need to play games in order to prove to themselves that they are capable of cutting it at the highest level. The other attractive aspect to any proposed deal for Richards is he out of contract and therefore would be available for free. He can also play at right back and central defence meaning his versatility would be extremely useful to Advocaat going forward.

Rafael Van Der Vaart

I've covered this one off recently in a previous blog so won't go into much detail here. However, in essence, following Hamburg's recent brush with relegation, the former Spurs and Real Madrid man has left the Bundesliga behind.

With a fantastic pedigree and once runner up to Gareth Bale as the PFA's Player's Player of the Year, Van Der Vaart would instantly add a sprinkling of creativity in the central of our midfield.  He is also capable of playing off of a main striker should we decide to switch from the 4-3-3 formation currently in vogue at the Stadium of Light. At 32 he's not the force he once, and he is supposed to be close to a move to Real Betis, was but if Advocaat used him wisely he would surely shine in the red and white.

Loic Remy

Okay, so this transfer might be at the unlikely end of the ‘realistic' spectrum.

One thing we struggled with last season was goals. Despite signing one of the best strikers the Premier League has seen in Jermain Defoe, he was forced, for the benefit of the team, to play at left back at times. It's unlikely this will happen again assuming the right personnel get over the line during the summer but we can't rely on one man.

If Loic Remy also finds himself looking for game time, then surely a move away from big spenders Chelsea is a must.  This would be a tricky deal for Congerton to close. It's highly likely that Remy, a proven goal score at Premier League level, would have his choice of alternative options including teams in the South.

Should Crystal Palace decide to make a move for his services for example, it would mean minimal disruption for him as he may not even have to move home. However two of the three players I've mentioned so far are available for free. In addition Van Dijk would not cost as much as £8million should Congerton elect to through Fletcher in to help sweeten the deal. All this means that three quality players could actually join Sunderland for a relatively modest net spend.

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It's going to be a long summer.  I'm sure at times we'll be frustrated by what appears to be lack of progress. However if we are to truly push on this year under Dick Advocaat we need to try and bring in quality, not just players with potential and a hope that the quality will come. We've been down this road before and frankly we can't afford the gamble again.

What is needed this time around is a solid foundation, players with proven Premier League experience who don't require time to adjust to the demands of quick and physical competition. Once this is in place then we'll have the luxury of taking more risks on young hungry players. Whoever comes in this summer let's hope we get more hits than misses.