Roker Report guest writer Ellis Douglas takes us through his top picks to fill the void in Sunderland's midfield for the forthcoming season.
Over the past few seasons in the Premier League, Sunderland have lacked one key element more than any to make supporters proud: points... wins... pace... goals... performances ...Okay, so I guess there are many key elements Sunderland has been deprived of in recent times.
However, one of the biggest is creativity. It's well known that in the coming weeks, Dick Advocaat will be looking to bring in that one player that will play the killer pass. Or, to coin the words of our knee sliding, publicly player criticising ex-manager, Paolo Di Canio, unlock the door.
Jack Rodwell was expected to be the answer to our prayers last season. Unfortunately, a series of injuries and sub-par performances brought that dream crashing down around us.
Emanuele Giaccherini was another who was touted as Sunderland's answer to Xavi, but, again, injuries have deemed our diminutive Italian more Abou Diaby than Andrea Pirlo.
Therefore, the club have been left in a position where they must bring in a player to fill the void in the current dull, derived-of-ideas midfield.
With that in mind, I have shortlisted 5 players who I see as possible transfer targets to bring a little more cutting edge to Sunderland's attack. I have split them into three unique categories from, in my opinion, best to worst, but definitely, in most people's opinions, from least likely to most likely, but we can all dream, right?
The John Carver: "I'm the best coach in the Premier League", forever hopeful category.
Davy Klaassen - Ajax
Two years ago, this young, talented midfielder burst onto the scene to become a regular in Champions League club Ajax's first team. His key strength is a willingness to run through walls for his side, which would make him the perfect midfielder for Sunderland under Dick Advocaat.The Black Cats chief will demand nothing less than 100% from his squad, and Klaassen is a player who will give that and much more.
Coming through an academy, which brought the world players such as, Wesley Sneijder, Luis Suarez and Christian Eriksen, should be enough to tell you Klaassen will be a cut above the quality we are used to at Sunderland.
However, as Klaassen has just been appointed club captain with the possibility of another year of Champions League football, he seems a highly unlikely transfer.
The Tottenham Hotspur, forever the bridesmaid, never the bride. Top quality, but not top, top quality category.
Stefan Johansen - Celtic
The 24-year-old Norwegian midfielder has been pulling up trees in Scotland since he arrived at Celtic Park. Johansen was the heartbeat of last season's double winning Celtic side with almost everything going through him - with his touch and passing ability, it's no wonder why.
Johansen would be something Sunderland have missed of late. He would bring goals from midfield, racking up 13 goals last season, which has become increasingly hard to come by in a Red and White shirt.
Adding the young Norwegian to our line up would appear to be a very shrewd piece of business indeed. If he were to line up alongside our very own Swede, Sebastian Larsson, next season, it could be the start of some very sexy Scandinavian soccer.
Hakim Ziyech - FC Twente
Ziyech, 22, is a more unknown entity in this list but he's undoubtedly talented. Ziyech, like Johansen, is a midfielder who can score goals. His respectable tally of 11 goals in the Eredivisie last year, mixed in with his 13 assists and young age, makes him a very desirable prospect.
Ziyech, however, isn't really one for winning the 50/50 balls or getting stuck in to tackles and might have to develop that side of his game if he is to fit into Advocaats system.
In addition, goals and assists in Holland don't necessarily mean you're going to hit similar figures in the premier league - just ask Afonso Alves. But, with no Champions League football for Twente next season, it gives young Hakim very few reasons to turn down Sunderland should they come knocking.
Mousa Dembele - Spurs
Mousa Dembele's name has been pinging around the transfer window like a Roger Federer/Novak Djokovic rally. He is believed to be a key target for the Black Cats, and with past playing experience under Dick Advocaat, there appears to be substance to the speculation.
The big Belgian has struggled to make an impact at Spurs, however, from his time at Fulham, we are all more than aware of what he's capable of. He matches brains with brawn and can play in multiple positions. His power on the ball coupled with his smooth and elegant dribbling makes Dembele a unique player.
He's a player that can knock a player off the ball, turn with elegance, glide past a defender and then play a reverse pass in behind the defence. These attributes have even led to our very own Younes Kaboul to declare him the most skilful player he has ever played with. That's pretty high praise coming from a guy who's played alongside Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and, of course, Heurelho Gomes.
The Andrea Dossena, I don't know why anyone thought signing them would a good idea category.
Scott Parker - Fulham
Given Sunderlands track record of signing players who haven't quite been up to the right standard, Scott Parker isn't a signing to be ruled out.
As an experienced player in the Premier League, If I were to wake up tomorrow morning with Parker's grin - elated with the move he doesn't deserve - and carefully gelled hair plastered all over newspaper covers holding up our beloved Red and White scarf, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest. I'd be hugely disappointed, but not at all surprised.
I guess that's just what you expect Sunderland AFC to do. No offence, Mr Parker, but I hope and pray that you're not the key to whatever door it was that Paolo Di Canio was alluding to during his brief stint at the Stadium of Light.