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Make Your Case: Should Sunderland sell Jordan Pickford this Summer?

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Damian Brown and Dan Parker go head-to-head on the matter of Jordan Pickford. Would it make sense for Sunderland to sell their home-grown, prized asset this summer, or should they rebuff all offers and choose to keep the talented stopper? 

Sunderland v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Dan – Sell Pickford!

Now let me first preface this by saying I wish there were alternatives to selling Jordan Pickford. I absolutely love the bloke. But let’s be realistic here; we are most likely heading for the drop and, as a result, face a summer of rebuilding the squad on threadbare resources.

Yes, people may point to the fact that we rebuffed Everton’s advances for Lamine Kone last summer as proof it is possible to resist the advances of another club. But this was when we were a Premier League team and, foolishly, didn’t see major investment in the squad as essential for survival. We will certainly not be in the same position this summer.

In fact, we will be in a desperate situation financially, and player sales will be necessary if we want to build a squad capable of challenging in the Championship. The key word here is ‘squad’. It will not just be a handful of players leaving when relegation is confirmed in May – it will be the majority of our current first-team squad. The sale of Pickford – however gutting it will be – will allow us to buy several first-team players.

You will know the state of the club’s finances by now. It has been well documented by the press and on this site too. You know that our levels of debt are unsustainable and that parachute payments alone will not cover the TV revenue and gate receipts we will lose when relegation is confirmed.

We are not in a position where we can keep shelling out £20m on transfers each summer using money we don’t have, just to plunge ourselves further into the financial abyss. Player sales will be necessary this summer so that we have money to spend in preparation for life in the Championship.

Sadly, there are not many players in our squad that are Premier League quality. Defoe is definitely one of those players, but will seemingly leave for free upon relegation. Kone, Khazri, Lens, and Borini will all certainly leave too, but the most sought after player will be Jordan Pickford.

We should be asking for at least £20m for our talented goalkeeper this summer, and I believe that clubs will pay at least that to acquire him. The fact that he has Premier League experience, has proven himself in a struggling side, is deadly accurate with his kicking, and is only 23 years old means that we can demand a huge fee when negotiating his potential sale. Furthermore, the fact that he qualifies as home-grown will certainly entice the bigger sides who are willing to pay a premium for home-grown status in European competitions.

In my opinion, the best case scenario (of all the realistic scenarios anyway) is that one of the big clubs buy him and agrees to loan him back to us for one final season. This is happening more frequently now that big clubs appear to be stock-piling players - although it might just be wishful thinking on my part!

Either way, Pickford will unfortunately need to leave for the greater good of our squad next season.

Southampton v Sunderland - Premier League
Should Sunderland cash in on the Washington-born stopper?
Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

Damian – Don’t Sell Pickford!

Before we get too far into this let me just say that Sunderland AFC is run by madmen with little to no experience of financial responsibility, as the last five years clearly indicate. So expect absolutely nothing to go as you would actually expect it should, and consider these astute arguments to be the least of Moyes's concerns when the time comes.

At times this season the fanbase has appeared extremely fractured, but regardless of which side of the fence you fall on we can all agree that the summer to come is going to be a long and arduous one. Yes – that most exciting time when the skeleton crew of the downsized Admin department stock up on fountain pens and ink for the fax machine, dust off the ol’ Texan’s cheque book and oil the hinges on the revolving doors of the Academy of Light. Transfers, baby!

The inevitable fact of the matter is that come the summer transfer window there will be nigh-on twenty spaces available in the Sunderland squad, with contracts coming to an end for the chaff and relegation clauses for the wheat.

It should come as no surprise to you that the majority of senior squad players have a clause written into their contract that, in the event of relegation, triggers a substantial drop in wages. Of course these exact figures are the private business of the player and club, but the accepted numbers typical of such things place it anywhere from 35% to 50%. We’re talking about halving the entire wage bill here, people.

On the one hand of this argument is the obvious need to recruit, and the imagined £20,000,000 plus for young Pickford seems like a good way to get that ball rolling. On the other hand, there are several factors that need to be taken into account here. Being in the Championship means the premiums of Premier League spending are a thing of the past; wages and transfer fees are lower across the board and “Parachute” payments will help to relieve the initial pressure on the owner’s cheque book.

Also consider that the chasms in the squad directly translate to funds in the wage budget, and you might find yourself asking why there would be some urgent and desperate need to sell our most valuable asset to finance a comeback that, from all accounts, will take years to come to fruition anyway.

For all that we love him, it can be easy to forget that Pickford is still just twenty three years old. It's quite a stretch indeed to suggest that any top club will take him with the intention of immediately handing the number one jersey over and at this stage of his development, and it would be foolish to have him warming a bench. In all likelihood if he wasn't loaned abroad a manager worth his salt would secure him another season in the Championship which, coincidentally, is where we'll be.

Young players have a great many influences on their career. If they're lucky they'll have parents who breathe the game and a cunning, experienced agent that wants raw talent honed into money-making skill that can be bought and sold and given consistent wage increases for exceptional performances and the like. No sensible person is rushing youth through one stage of their career after another in urgent fashion - these things take time and thought and slow, steady progression.

It's up to these people, as well as the player, to make the right decision. Not the most short-term or lucrative decision, not the most glamorous decision, but the right decision. And the right decision, ladies and gentlemen, is for Jordan Pickford, relegation or no, to stay with Sunderland.

The fact is that whilst Jordan Pickford is a fantastic goalkeeper and one of England's best prospects in the role, he isn't the best in the world and all of the teams mooted to pursue him can afford just that. If you also take into account the likelihood that Jordan will be playing between the sticks for the best part of the next twenty years – is there really a rush to break the bank on a promising but by no means finished article? As stellar a record as two clean sheets in seventeen games is (it's not), it's difficult to see why any sensible manager would go to such great lengths to secure a luxury they don't need.

On another note - if the happy clappers are right and the time has come for a rebuild, regardless of the growing pains, we need to do it from strength. That isn't achieved by selling our best prospects, and I just don't want to believe that David Moyes, for all his evident incompetence in the transfer market, is truly that stupid.

Whether you agree that it's a good or a bad idea, the thought to leave you with is this: Jordan Pickford is not just a talent, he’s a talisman. Home-grown and a self confessed lover of the lads, proud to be the last line of defence for a club and city that adores him, why would he want to be anywhere else?


Who do you agree with? Vote in the poll below and leave us a comment!

Poll

Should Sunderland sell Jordan Pickford this summer?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Dan Parker - Yes
    (97 votes)
  • 67%
    Damian Brown - No
    (204 votes)
301 votes total Vote Now