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Make Your Case: Should Sunderland Sign Diafra Sakho?

With a move for West Ham United striker Diafra Sakho seemingly moving closer, Gav and Callum go head-to-head this week arguing whether or not the Senegalese would even be a good signing. Vote for who you side with in the poll at the bottom of the article.

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Callum - Diafra SakNO!

I’m not saying Diafra Sakho is a bad player. I realise he boasts a good scoring record and seems accustomed and capable in the Premier League. I admire his work ethic and his ability. However, his injury record and the price it would supposedly take West Ham to part with him, means I am against us signing him.

During his two years at West Ham, he has been missing for a collective period of six months with thigh and hamstring injuries. I know people will say that Big Sam can work his magic and succeed in keeping Sakho fit where others would fail. Well, yes, Big Sam has proven extremely adept at keeping the squad fit against all the odds and despite the severe injury susceptibility of many of our players. But is that a reason to go gung-ho into a reported £12m marquee signing?

‘Look at what he did with Kirchhoff’, I can already hear people screaming. Kirchhoff’s injury record was legendary and worrying when he signed for Sunderland. But he was a justifiable risk at just £750,000 and a noncommittal eighteen month contract. Sakho would command a near club record fee, not to mention a hefty salary and a lengthy commitment. Based on his injury record, it is a fee and a commitment that is not easily justified.

Not so long ago we signed Premier League based Jack Rodwell, discounting his rather dismal injury record at Manchester City and splashing out a reported £10m. Injuries, niggles and two years later, I think we can all agree the money could have been spent better elsewhere. Seb Coates cost us £2m despite Liverpool being desperate to sell and Coates suffering from many injuries, including during his loan with us. Last summer we spent £3m spent on Younes Kaboul which, until the last few months of the season, was a crazy investment. Kaboul had only played more than 20 games in a season once in nine years. Though shopping abroad is often deemed to be far riskier than shopping domestically, we have gone a long way towards proving that the pitfalls of domestic recruitment are just as real as those in markets abroad.

Kaboul ended the season strongly, but players who come to the fore in the last ten games do not necessarily thrive the following season (Messrs. Coates and Wickham, I’m looking at you). The point remains that we have suffered in the past by signing players with poor injury records for stupidly inflated fees simply because those players belong to a Premier League club. Sakho’s injury record concerns me and no amount of goals scored at West Ham will dissuade me of this concern. The fact of the matter is, we are not a club that can or should spend £12m on a player with a history of long term absence through injury.

Our season was saved by talent scouted and signed on the continent, and at a significantly more reasonable price than comparable Premier League players would have cost us. I believe this market is the best option for us right now, as the Premier League does not represent the available balance of quality and reasonable prices, which is vital to a club like ours. There are bound to be many strikers like Sakho dotted across the European leagues. Big Sam has unearthed many of them in the past, including Sakho himself, who Allardyce signed from Metz.

I’m not saying I know who the alternative is, but it’s clear that Big Sam’s scouting network reaches far and wide and is capable of finding players at a reasonable price whose attributes suit the Premier League and whose characteristics suit the excellent team spirit we have. Signing from within the Premier League is not a guarantee of success. We have a manager and a scouting system that can identify players who have the all the attributes, but do not come with inflated domestic fees. Why not use this and trust it, instead of pursuing players who give the illusion of safe options, but are actually just as risky - if not more so - as continental market alternatives?

Sakho’s quality is not in question, but I think we can do better in terms of price and injury record. It would be a mistake to return so quickly to signing well known, injury prone, Premier League players for inflated fees, when we have seen the quality and value that foreign leagues offer. Of course it’s a risk to look abroad, but with Big Sam and his network at the helm, it’s a risk worth taking.

Gav - We'd Be Wacko Not To Go For Sakho

The January transfer window, for me, was arguably the best I've seen from a Sunderland manager. The main points raised whenever our winter business dealings are discussed seem to be around the quality of player that Sam Allardyce brought in, but we also have to consider the players he managed to move out, too.

All round, however, it was hugely successful and as a result we have to place full trust in Sam Allardyce this summer when it comes to reshaping our squad.

Next season I think it would be fair to say that there is some expectation that we become more than just a club that fights against relegation, and as a result we have to strengthen our side in just about every position. We were fortunate last season that Jermain Defoe stayed fit and kept scoring goals, because the alternative in his position was Dame N'Doye. Going into the summer, we HAVE to recruit a better quality of player, particularly up front.

Diafra Sakho offers something a little more different than what Jermain does, and I guess that in recruiting players we have to diversify as much as we can in order to give ourselves plenty of options over the course of the season. Sakho is naturally very athletic, so his strength and pace are arguably his biggest assets.

Eleven million pounds seems like a large sum of money, but in football terms it really isn't. With the money flooding into the Premier League this season it means the majority of players moving between clubs in the top flight will go for slightly inflated fees, and I guess when you consider that Sakho is already accustomed to playing in this league and has proven that he can score goals if given a run of games, it seems a sensible signing.

If Sam was to hit a home run in bringing in unknown quantities like Lamine Kone, Wahbi Khazri and Jan Kirchhoff, it really does make me wonder just how good Diafra Sakho is. Considering Sam was the one to bring Sakho over to England when he was West Ham manager, it would suggest that Sam knows just how good he is and the fact he'd go back in for him at a different club tells me everything that I need to know.

Who do you agree with? Vote below.

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