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New PVA Contract Is A Reward For His Fantastic Improvement

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Today Sunderland confirmed that Dutch international left back Patrick Van Aanholt has signed a new contract which keeps him at the club until the summer of 2020, a reward earned as a result of hard work both on and off the pitch by the former Chelsea player.

Let me ask you this - if someone had told you six months ago that, not too far down the line, Patrick Van Aanholt would be given an improved contract in order to keep him at the club, would you have spat your coffee everywhere?

I'm going to hazard that most people would answer that with yes - even the tea drinkers.

Patrick Van Aanholt was arguably Sunderland's worst player up until the turn of the year, and the way that he has turned around his fortunes on the pitch in such a remarkable fashion gives me hope for the future that we have managed to secure the services of one of the Premier League's most exciting and improving attacking full backs.

I recall an interview around Christmas with Sam Allardyce, where he bemoaned the fact that Patrick doesn't listen enough to what he's trying to teach him. Van Aanholt's form - and confidence - was so bad at one stage of the season that he found himself playing with the U21s side, an indication that his manager wasn't at all impressed with the way that the player was conducting himself on the training ground and in Premier League games.

Obviously, Van Aanholt and Allardyce were able to meet in the middle somewhere and I'm absolutely delighted that they did, because the stark improvement in the Dutchman's all-round game since that sticky period has been very impressive, and going into next season I can only hope the improvement continues.

Patrick has not only added goals to his game but has immensely improved his work-rate and has clearly worked hard on his defending. His technique, touch and crossing ability has developed some too.

By no means is he suddenly this unbelievable footballer, but he deserves recognition for the way he's conducted himself since the turn of the year and his value to the club has risen to the point where we've acted accordingly and given him an improved deal - that speaks volumes.

Quick, offensively-good, Premier League experienced attacking left full backs don't just grow on trees and I have no doubt that other clubs will have been sniffing around him this summer. Managing to secure his services - or at least stabilise the agreement that he has with the club - is welcome news, particularly in the early stages of Sam Allardyce's pre-season restructuring job.

Lets hope that this contract news is the first of many - Jan Kirchhoff and Yann M'Vila would be the next two on my list.