Grayson offers clean slates to Moyes outcasts
Simon Grayson has offered insight into his plans for potentially keeping two Sunderland players that seemed destined to leave the club this summer.
Wahbi Khazri and Jeremain Lens - who both arrived during the 2015-2016 season - have been heavily linked with moves away from Wearside following our descent into the Championship, but having figured into Grayson's pre-season plans there remains a glimmer of hope that they may yet still have a future with the club.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, Grayson said:
While they’re still here and being paid as Sunderland players, they’ll be doing every session with the rest of the lads. They’re not out here for a jolly up – they’ll earn their money. While they’re here, we’ll utilise them, and if anything changes, so be it.
(Khazri) is a talented player, and that’s why he is at Sunderland. He’s played in the Premier League. You’ve seen in the two games that he’s a good player, and we want to keep good players.
Time will tell who will stay at the football club. Every player at every club has a price, but while they’re here, they’ll do what’s required and do everything to try to get in the team for the first game of the season.
Netherlands international Jeremain Lens is incredibly talented and he would undoubtedly shine in the Championship, but with far more appealing opportunities away from Sunderland likely to be presented to him it would be a shock if he does indeed remain with the club going into the new season.
I suppose its a case of lets wait and see what happens - nobody would be surprised to see both men leave during this transfer window, but should things change they'd undoubtedly be welcomed back into the fold with open arms by a manager who is keen to give every player a clean slate following our disastrous relegation to the second-tier.
Max Gradel in?
AFC Bournemouth attacker Max Gradel has been continually linked in recent days with a move to Wearside, with the news surfacing this morning in the Bournemouth Echo and the Evening Chronicle.
The Ivorian's breakout season at Leeds in 2010-11 saw him score 18 goals in 41 games. He then moved on to Ligue 1 side St Etienne where he enjoyed mixed fortunes, before signing with Eddie Howe's Bournemouth upon their promotion to the Premier League for the first time.
Gradel - who hasn't been able to make his name at the South Coast club since arriving there in 2015 from Saint-Etienne - played perhaps the best football of his career under Simon Grayson at Leeds United, and with it expected that the former Leicester City man will leave the Cherries this summer it seems natural to see him linked with a move to Sunderland, a club bereft of capable wide-attacking players.
Wolves Sign Ruddy - are we in for Smithies?
Former England international John Ruddy has been highly sought-after following his release from Norwich City and has been continually linked with a move to Sunderland - a rumour that can now be put to bed as the stopper's move to fellow Championship club Wolverhampton Wanderers was confirmed this morning.
Various sources today are reporting that Ruddy 'turned Sunderland down' in favour of a move to the ambitious Midlands club, who just last week broke their club record fee when signing talented midfielder Ruben Neves from FC Porto for £17m.
Sunderland were first credited with an interest in Ruddy when his former boss at Everton, David Moyes, was still our manager and upon Jordan Pickford leaving the club a few weeks ago the links resurfaced, with Simon Grayson's side potentially offering Ruddy a fresh chance at re-invigorating his faltering career.
Another supposed Sunderland goalkeeping target, Sam Johnstone of Manchester United, is expected to re-join Aston Villa on loan for the entirety of next season.
One new name to have been added to the ever-growing list of apparent Sunderland targets is QPR stopper Alex Smithies, with GetWestLondon.co.uk reporting on the rumour this morning.
Smithies has been at QPR since 2015 and has played 64 games, including every fixture last season. The ex-England U19s international has also been linked with a move back to his former club Huddersfield Town, who are on the lookout for a new keeper ahead of their first ever season in the Premier League.
Smithies is likely to command a fee above £2 million - he signed for QPR for just shy of that figure two years ago and penned a new contract extension in February of this year.