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Transfer Window Review: How Did We Do?

Five in, nine out - it's been quite the turnover for Sam Allardyce's squad. @GRokerReport gives his feelings on Sunderland's ins and outs in the January transfer window.

Harry Engels/Getty Images

Transfers In:

Jan Kirchhoff - £750,000k from Bayern Munich - Eighteen month contract

The relatively small fee and short-term contract makes this deal fairly low risk. Kirchhoff has been brought in to provide cover both in the centre of defence and midfield, both positions we are fairly well stocked in now. Although Kirchhoff's injury record makes this deal questionable, and his debut away to Tottenham last month was one to forget, I feel this is a player we'll see a fair bit of should Sam elect to revert back to a five-man defence.

Steve Harper - Free transfer (released by Hull City in 2015) - End of the season

Harper was a signing that made sense, really. Having effectively 'promoted' Jordan Pickford from third choice to second, along with selling Costel Pantilimon to Watford, it lessened the need for another quality acquisition in goal but perhaps furthered the need to bring in a low-risk third choice until the end of the season. Harper lives in the area, has a wealth of experience and is there if he's needed should our other two senior keepers pick up injuries.


Lamine Kone - £5,000,000 from FC Lorient - Four-and-a-half year deal

Kone is a signing that excites me, and not because I profess to have seen him play alot, but because he was vigorously pursued by our manager even after the deal broke down on a number of occasions. To me, that says alot.

With Kone turning twenty-eight yesterday you have to question just why nobody has taken a chance yet on him, and it's fair enough. Lamine has spent almost six years at Lorient - a side who aren't known as one of the Ligue Un big-wigs by any stretch -  and although he's very much revered by the fans of the Brittany club, it's taken quite some time for someone else to take a gamble on Kone, to see if he has what it takes to play in a much tougher league.

Like Kirchhoff, Kone is adept in more than just one position - he's comfortable at right back as well as down the middle. Having not played for one of the bigger sides in France, Kone has had to learn to defend deep and become competent in sledging the ball away, skills which should serve him well playing for Sunderland.

Dame N'Doye - Loan from Trabzonspor - End of the season

Having decided that Danny Graham should be allowed to leave the club, Sam Allardyce moved quickly to replace him before allowing him to leave and Dame N'Doye - a player who scored goals for Hull last season, despite their inevitable relegation - is someone that came highly recommended to him, albeit by our former manager Steve Bruce.

Although Graham was playing regularly, he wasn't scoring goals. If N'Doye can prove himself as a useful backup option whilst bagging a few goals it should be viewed as a relatively successful signing. How much he will play, however, is anyone's guess - Big Sam seems to like playing with one striker and Jermain Defoe is the main man up there, meaning N'Doye will probably see his playing time limited.

N'Doye may well have a decent record almost everywhere he has played but he's struggled for form and goals at Trabzonspor this season - one goal in thirteen games for a side who tend to finish in the top four or five in Turkey isn't particularly sparkling, especially when you consider that Hugo Rodellega has bagged eleven playing in the same division this year.

I think it was clear that our squad has been missing pace and physicality in almost every area of the pitch and at least with N'Doye he brings something different to what Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher do.

Wahbi Khazri - £9,000,000 from FC Girondins de Bordeaux - Four-and-a-half year deal

Wahbi Khazri may well be relatively unknown to the majority of Sunderland fans but those who know - foreign football writers Andrew Gibney and Kristen Heanege to name just two - tell us that Sunderland have signed the real deal in the Tunisian international.

Sunderland haven't had a real playmaker since Stephane Sessegnon left the club three years ago and the hope is that the creative flair that Wahbi Khazri brings with him will improve our record in front of goal.

The problem that Khazri faces is that Sunderland cannot afford to give him time to settle in. If we are going to stay up we need Khazri to slot straight in to the side and hit the ground running. Although Khazri is making a huge step up from playing in the top flight in France, he's a proven player over there. Starting tonight against Manchester City, he needs to impress from the off and that's alot of pressure for a young player.

Like Lamine Kone, Wahbi is a player that Sam Allardyce has scouted vigorously. Bordeaux fans were completely disgusted that their club were selling one of their best players, which is always a promising sign. Everything about this deal - the fact we're taking someone's best player, he's young and the fee is fairly large - makes me feel strange. This isn't your typical Sunderland signing.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Although the signings of Kone and Khazri give me hope, I feel we maybe could have improved a number of other positions, particularly at right back. That said, we've added physicality and pace that was otherwise lacking and now we have at least given ourselves plenty of options off the bench, something I feel has been lacking recently.

How much Jan Kirchhoff, Steve Harper and Dame N'Doye play is anyone's guess.

Transfers Out:

Costel Pantilimon - £480,000 to Watford FC - Three-and-a-half year deal

Having enjoyed a fairly decent spell last season, firmly establishing himself as our first choice goalkeeper, Pantilimon struggled for much of the first half of this season and found himself out of the team in January. The return of Jordan Pickford from Preston meant one of Pantilimon and Mannone would likely be leaving and I guess the more saleable asset of the two is probably Pantilimon, so it makes sense that he was the one that left.

Big Sam made a big deal of getting some of the big earners off the wage bill and you'd have to imagine that, considering he came on a free from Manchester City, Costel will have been near the top of that list. If a top-earning player is your third choice, can you really afford to keep him?

Regardless of whether or not we stay up, Jordan Pickford will most likely be our number one keeper next season. Once that became apparent you'd have to imagine Pantilimon knew his time was limited here. Although it disappointed some, I felt allowing him to leave was the right thing for both Sunderland and the player.

Will Buckley - Loan to Birmingham City - End of the season

I have to admit, even though Brighton fans told us that Will Buckley wasn't very good I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Gus Poyet had worked with the player before, he looked good on the various highlight videos that were knocking about on Youtube and he seemed to have the characteristics of a player we were missing.

Sadly, it never quite worked out for Buckley. Even though he was impressive on his debut against Manchester United he found playing time limited and once Gus Poyet left the club he was lucky to make the bench under both Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce.

Buckley scored in his first start for Birmingham last week against Ipswich and I'm happy for him. Fingers crossed it works out for him there and it's enough to earn him a permanent transfer, because should Birmingham elect to not keep him beyond the end of the season he could be on our books for at least another year, with his contract not due to expire until the summer of 2017.

Liam Bridcutt - Loan to Leeds United - End of the season

Like Buckley, Bridcutt was signed on the recommendation of Gus Poyet and his playing time here has been limited due to him, well, not being Lee Cattermole.

Everything I've heard since Bridcutt went to Leeds has been positive, which is good. His contract also runs until the summer of 2017, so lets hope he does well enough that they want to keep him.

Danny Graham - Loan to Blackburn Rovers - End of the season

Thankfully, we've seen the last of Danny Graham. Although it's only a loan until the end of the season his contract here runs out in the summer and, although he's played a fair bit recently for Sam Allardyce, it's fair to say that Graham just isn't cut out to play at this level.

He's indicative of the majority of the business we've made in recent years to be honest. He works hard and tries but when it comes to it he's not very good, really.

Lynden Gooch - Loan to Doncaster Rovers - One month loan deal

This has been one of the most important bits of business done in this window, for me. Gooch is, in my eyes, a better player than Duncan Watmore but maybe hasn't had the breaks that Dunc has and by going out on loan to an established club that were playing in the Championship not too long ago is a big deal.

He's starting games for Darren Ferguson and, fingers crossed, they think enough of him to hold on until the end of the season and continue to give him vital playing time which he needs if he's going to make it at Sunderland.

Charis Mavrias - Loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf - End of the season

Every time I've seen him for the reserves he has stood out. You don't make your international debut at nineteen years of age if you aren't decent, and it's just a shame things haven't worked out for him here.

He'll go for nothing in the summer and at least by allowing him to join Fortuna he can gain some playing time and hopefully get his name out there for potential suitors. Nevermind.

Sebastian Coates - Loan to Sporting CP - End of the season

Coates was signed on the back of two decent performances at the end of last season whilst on loan here. Although at the time I was content with the club signing him on a permanent basis it just hasn't been a successful first half of the season for him.

The loan move to Sporting is the right one for both parties, and should the Portugese side elect to keep him beyond this season it will see Sunderland make a profit with the transfer fee, which is unusual, even for us.

You'd think the slower pace in Portugal might suit Coates, because he's actually a decent defender - he just isn't really suited to the English game.

Steven Fletcher - Loan to Marseille - End of the season

Another of the 'likely lads' that were taking home a decent wage and not really doing much in return. He's scored some important goals for us over the years but with his contract set to expire in the summer the end was near, and at least by sending him to Marseille it's a fresh start for both the player and the club.

I'm not sure the Marseille fans are too thrilled, like - check out this guy's twitter feed. Meltdown.

Jordi Gomez - Loan to Blackburn - End of the season

Like Fletcher, Graham and Mavrias, Gomez's Sunderland contract expires in the summer and as a result of this loan deal his time at Sunderland has come to an end.

Gomez is everything that Sam Allardyce dislikes about a central midfield player, so it should come as no surprise that he's barely played since Big Sam joined the club. He's slow, holds onto the ball a tad too long and is probably the least physical player we have - a move down to the Championship with Blackburn should serve him well.

Overall Rating: 9/10

The only reason I didn't give this a 10/10 was because most of them were loans only, but you cannot deny that Sam Allardyce has done an absolutely outstanding job of getting hanger-oners out of the door in this window.

Our squad has been bloated with far too many sub-par players for some time now and it's refreshing to see Sam wield the axe. Sam worked with what he had from October until the start of January and was nice to the players, but now he's lay down a statement to his squad that if you aren't good enough, you're out the door. Simple.

I can only imagine that we didn't allow Adam Matthews to leave because of the breakdown of any deal for Mathieu Debuchy, otherwise he would have been departure number ten. Likewise, I'm sure we attempted to seek out a suitor for Valentin Roberge but considering he remains you have to suspect that nobody wanted him, which is a shame for the player as he's kept his head down and worked hard here.

What are your thoughts on Sunderland's business in the January window? Leave your comments below and vote in our poll.

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