Sunderland boss Simon Grayson has now confirmed what we all largely assumed to be the case - he will have to sell before he can buy in the remainder of the transfer window.
The Black Cats boss told the local media after Saturday’s game against Bradford that he has little room to manoeuvre in bringing in new recruits without raising cash first, telling the Sunderland Echo:
It will make it easier if players went out, because there’ll be money to spend in terms of outlay on transfer fees, It doesn’t stop us bringing in players on loan.
Grayson also suggested his wage budget is looking reasonably healthy, which is positive news for supporters who have grown a little concerned at the gaps in the Sunderland squad as the beginning of the season looms.
Having brought in four new players with a zero net outlay, we can also conclude the 47-year-old agreed to take the job at the Stadium of Light with no discernible transfer budget on offer up front.
To date Grayson has brought in Everton defenders Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway for nominal loan fees, plus Toffees winger Aiden McGeady and Bury striker James Vaughan for a combined price thought to be roughly £1.25m.
That figure spent so far is largely covered by the cash wired from AC Milan to land Fabio Borini on a trial basis for the season.
On top of that, Sunderland will presumably have received a portion of cash paid upfront for that owed from Reading on last week’s sale of goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
The £30m landed for Jordan Pickford presumably resides in Ellis Short’s rainy day fund somewhere in deepest Missouri. Either that or it’s gone on legacy payments for transfer fees still owed from previous windows.
And so yesterday’s report in The Sun which suggested Aston Villa may allow unwanted striker Ross McCormack to exit on loan in order to free up a portion of his reported £50,000 a week wages would appeal to the wheeling-and-dealing Simon Grayson.
McCormack has been linked with a move to Sunderland since last weekend with media in the West Midlands suggesting the Black Cats have enquired after the 30-year-old.
And the interest from Sunderland may go some way to explaining the Scotland international’s exclusion from the Villa pre-season party which headed for Germany on Saturday. Either way, McCormack clearly has no future in claret-and-blue.
And a season out on loan may be the only way Bruce can shift on the player he fell out with earlier in the year, who was a big-money £12m signing from Fulham last summer.
Villa have no chance of recouping much of that fee based on McCormack’s form in the Championship last term. Scoring just three goals in twenty outings, the 5ft 9in forward was loaned out to Forest at the end of January where he never really got going due to health problems.
McCormack’s Villa teammate Tommy Elphick has also been left behind by Bruce. Though Sunderland have been named as one of the clubs interested in the defender, newspaper talk last week continued to suggest Birmingham City are in pole position to land the 29-year-old.
Finally, Sunderland are also said to be tracking Blackburn goalkeeper Jason Steele and if you fancy a flutter on who the Black Cats will lash a transfer fee on next, the Newton Aycliffe-born stopper would be the one to stick a fiver on today.
It seems to be almost certain that Simon Grayson has made an enquiry for the 26-year-old product of Middlesbrough’s academy. Steele should be available for around half-a-million pounds.
And with Dutch goalie Robbin Ruiter set to be put through a few more paces in the remaining days of his trial both in training and potentially against Scunthorpe on Wednesday, Sunderland look set to acquire the two goalkeepers the manager has indicated he wishes to bring in.
And landing the pair for roughly a quarter of the fee received from Reading for Mannone is decent bargaining by an increasingly canny looking Simon Grayson.