Kimpioka & Asoro to Arsenal
The Sunderland Echo claimed over the weekend that a host of top flight clubs are interested in securing the services of two Swedish starlets from within the Academy of Light. But what does that mean for Sunderland?
The paper suggested Arsenal have bid £5m to sign Black Cats' prospects Joel Asoro, 18, and Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka, 17. Liverpool, Everton and Southampton are also said to be eyeing a move for the former.
Asoro has already hinted he is considering his future with the relegated Black Cats. The forward is presently with the Swedish camp ahead of the Under-21 Euro 2017 which starts next week and will be one of the youngest players at the tournament.
Reports in Sweden suggest that Asoro has impressed in warm-up matches and has a great chance of making starting elevens during the competition.
The player himself indicated last week that the identity of Sunderland's new manager will make up his mind on staying at the Stadium of Light, as well as how he rates his chances of breaking into the first team in the Championship campaign to come.
That bid of £5m from Arsenal for the promising pair may be sufficient to turn heads at the cash-strapped Black Cats - a club who have rarely shown any semblance of long-term planning in recent years.
But a quarter-of-a-million pounds of that income would automatically have to be paid to the academies in Sweden from which the youngsters came. Because there's a percentage fee payable to recompense the Swedish sides in the deals signed when they arrived at Sunderland.
Kimpioka was picked up by the Black Cats from the youth set-up at Swedish top-tier outfit Sirius IK. The chairman of the side who currently sit in fifth place in the Allsvenskan, hinted to Scandinavian media today that his club will be in line for a payout but the details are naturally restricted:
I dare not reveal anything about how a sale of Benjamin affect Sirius. The elements of the agreement are confidential.
However, we understand that will be a 5% sell-on clause of any profit made by Sunderland on future sales of these two players - in perpetuity.
Sirius head honcho Ove Sjöblom also said the prestige of producing a player targeted by Arsenal would be great for his side, telling local newspaper UNT:
It's great that it's been so very good to him and very positive for Sirius football brand. Just a request from a club like Arsenal to be on the trail of a player from Sirius is amazing.
Kimpioka has a year left on his initial professional youth contract with Sunderland signed last summer. Asoro signed a new three-year-deal in 2016.
And whilst £5m - less £1/4m - might be seen as a decent bit of business for the accounts at the Stadium of Light, selling Asoro in particular right now would be utter madness.
The 18-year-old was interesting several top clubs before he opted to move to Sunderland and has been scouted extensively by some big names since. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was said to have been made aware of Asoro by his Scandinavian scout Bobby Bennett who has watched the Black Cats player regularly in the last year.
But Sunderland have stellar hopes for Asoro that he will be the next big thing. At one point owner Ellis Short was even heard to rave that he was sure the young forward would be the club's long-term natural successor to Jermain Defoe.
After yesterday's 'mixed' response to Sunderland's launch of the 2017-18 kit, more mirth at the deckchair, butcher's apron-effort today.
With 50% of some 1200 Sunderland fans who responded to a survey we ran yesterday declaring that they 'loathed' the new shirt, worried observers in Brentford - who share kit supplier Adidas and red-and-white stripes with us - have been speculating that the Sunderland top may be a hint at their own fate.
A poll being run today by media outlet GetWestLondon on whether Bees fans would want a shirt like Sunderland's had 42% voting for "Oh my god, what is that?!" and just 1% agreeing "I'd like to see Brentford have something similar".
Has it grown on you yet?
Another pre-season date confirmed
Sunderland have confirmed a final leg in the club's mini-tour of Scotland as part of its pre-season preparations. The week in July north of the border will now conclude with a confirmed Saturday fixture at St Johnstone.
With just one game still to announce, this is Sunderland's pre-season itinerary as laid out so far:
Friday 7th July - Bury, 19.30 Gigg Lane
Sunday 9th July - Hibernian FC, 14.00 Easter Road
Wednesday 12th July - Livingston FC, 19.45 Almondvale Stadium
Saturday 15th July - St Johnstone FC, 15.00 McDiarmid Park
Saturday 22nd July - Bradford City, 15.00 Valley Parade
Wednesday 26th July - Scunthorpe United, 19.30 Glanford Park
Saturday 29th July - Fixture TBC (widely thought to be a home game vs Celtic)
Today's press release also says the final fixture which is still to be confirmed will be a 'show-piece game' at the Stadium of Light. That will be to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the ground. Widespread speculation has suggested this will be against Celtic.
The Hoops will be in competitive action during the two weeks prior to that date with the qualifying round for the Champions League seeing games played on July 11/12 and 18/19.
It is entirely possible that Sunderland and Celtic won't confirm this pre-season game until the draw for those European games takes place next Monday.
Or it could be someone else entirely.