Sell To Buy
As is widely acknowledged, David Moyes will have to put his wishes for the transfer window firmly in the hands of Sunderland's chief negotiators for the next week or so.
Sunderland must sell before they can buy, hamstrung as they are by a tiny transfer budget and little room to bring in players due to being at the top of our Financial Fair Play permitted wage limit.
There are three key deals which if pushed through, at the right price, could allow Moyes some scope to forge ahead with a couple of his January targets. But, with the window now well into its second week, other clubs are readying bids for players that Sunderland may be trying to wangle.
Fenerbahçe Offer Half What Sunderland Are Asking
According to reports in Turkey, Fenerbahçe - who are managed by former Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat - have offered 4 million euros for Jeremain Lens.
Sunderland value him at double that. Perhaps the side-effect of telling the world you have no money is precisely this - clubs who wish to buy your players will come in low and hope to snatch a bargain in exchange for quick cash.
Sunderland rejected the Turkish club's initial bid and have supposedly turned down an offer to take Gregory Van der Wiel and Emmanuel Emenike in part payment. There are several days of negotiations left in the curious case of Jeremain Lens.
The Uruguayan international last week publicly repeated his desire to stay in Portugal with Sporting CP. And his words were echoed by the president of the Lisbon club who claimed a deal with Sunderland to sign Coates was in hand. That was over a week ago.
A £4m buy-on clause has been widely reported as already agreed between the clubs when Sunderland allowed Coates to go on loan to Portugal in the summer.
The present stumbling block appears to lie with the player and his representatives who have been negotiating with Sunderland over tying up add-ons which may be owed such as signing on fees and bonuses - such is football.
The Tunisian is still pretty much certainly up for sale; though whether anyone wants him is up for debate.
Despite it being common knowledge that David Moyes does not rate Whabi Khazri, the only reported interest so far has supposedly come from Dick Advocaat's Fenerbahçe. Whether that rumour has any basis is unclear, with the reports originating in Turkey - a media source renowned for its liberal avoidance of the truth.
It may be that potential interested parties are waiting to see if the 25-year-old can repeat some of last season's form at the African Cup of Nations. After all, Khazri has barely had a kick in the Premier League during this campaign.
Those Targets Then....
Sunderland are at a clear disadvantage in this transfer window - even compared with our closest relegation rivals. The stymying impact that the Financial Fair Play regulations are posing has severely limited Moyes' room for manouevre.
There all sorts of calculator-busting permutations to factor in too. Just one of them being that any January outgoings do not necessarily open up the opportunity for a like-for-like incoming. Remember, Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations are based on a calculation of a club's income and profits.
So, say Sunderland sell Wahbi Khazri for £5m, the effects on Moyes' ability to then go out and spend the £5m will not be felt immediately due to the fact transfer deals are hardly ever paid for up front in full. The impact on spending ability is merely a drip-fed reaction over a period of months as instalments are subsequently paid by the buying club.
It doesn't even figure that shifting a wage immediately opens up an equivalent figure that Sunderland can rush straight out for pay a new player. FFP regulations are more complex than that, but too head-hurting to explain in full here.
That said, David Moyes certainly has a list of targets he has identified as being plausible for purchase in the window, who he believes can strengthen his squad. The pressing problem now is, a waiting game to shift those players above in a timely fashion, for a cash return acceptable to the club AND in time to nip in and nab those very targets.
It's going to be a difficult window still. But then we knew that before it opened. The difference now, is that the clock is ticking.