You don’t need a diploma in nuclear physics to surmise that our recruitment has been generally toilet over the past few seasons. From the flopping, pathetic imitation of the Udinese model put together by Roberto De Fanti and Valentin Angeloni in the summer of 2013, all the way through to the questionable use of limited resources by David Moyes et al last summer, there hasn’t been an awful lot to look back upon fondly on the incoming front.
The sale of Patrick van Aanholt in January represented the first time Sunderland have sold a player for profit for almost three and a half years. This is a telling fact, and one that can go a reasonably long way to explaining our financial predicament – one that is greatly impacting the ability to improve a miserable outfit.
The number of ‘big clubs’ populating the upper echelons of the Championship, coupled with the intention of returning to the Premier League at the earliest opportunity has created a matter of contention. For the first time, the clubs at the top of the Championship vying with the clubs in the lower regions of the Premier League with regards to transfer targets.
With this in mind, the Scout and About feature will look at players who should be on our shopping list regardless of what league we’re ultimately playing in come August. Bearing in mind recent trials and tribulations in the transfer market, targeting young players with relative pedigree and potential sell-on value could prove to be imperative. First on the list? PSV’s classy midfielder, Bart Ramselaar.
Bart Ramselaar has generally impressed since moving to PSV in August last year. His emergence as a fresh faced 18 year-old in 2015 at FC Utrecht quickly established him as one of the latest prodigies to come off the Dutch conveyor belt. A stellar 2015/16 season prompted PSV to part with a fee in excess of £4m to acquire his services, and in 21 Eredivisie appearances for the Eindhoven outfit thus far, Ramselaar has bagged five goals as well as weighing in with a couple of assists.
The youngster has also nabbed two full international caps, featuring in Holland’s two previous international fixtures in November 2016. He made his debut coming off the bench in a friendly against Belgium, before starting in the 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Luxembourg.
With PSV currently sitting third in the Eredivisie, three points off the Champions League places and eight points off leaders Feyenoord, the lure of top level European football next season may not deter suitors in the lower reaches of the Premier League. His current club are likely to want at least double the fee they paid for him in August, and while they are unlikely to want to sell, the lure of Premier League football - or even a solitary season of Championship football with the aim of an immediate return to the Premier League – may appeal to Ramselaar.
It’s no secret that Sunderland have been crying out for a creative midfield player that would chip in with his fair share of goals since the departure of Stephane Sessegnon, and Ramselaar would tick those boxes. Couple that with the fact he is a great age and could develop considerably playing at a higher level, he is certainly the kind of player we should be looking at.
The resources that will be available to David Moyes come the summer will be dependent on the league his side will be playing in. If parachute payments and the fact that the likes of Newcastle and Villa have gone all out to try and secure an immediate return to the promised land is anything to go by, there may be more funds available if we do indeed succumb to the drop this season. Regardless, Moyes’ shortlist should be made up of similar players.
Ramselaar would compliment the marauding, pressing intuition of Didier Ndong and the solid steel of Lee Cattermole. His composure and vision as the spearhead of a midfield diamond would mirror that shown by Jan Kirchhoff at the base of it. This is admittedly me living in an ideal world where Cattermole and Kirchhoff are fit, and in the case of the latter, still at the club.
Stay tuned for the second edition of 'Scout and About' next week!