Sunderland are set to announce the signing of Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Jason Steele, with the former England U21s stopper arriving on Wearside today in order to complete his medical examinations.
Providing things go well, the ex-Boro man will join Simon Grayson’s side for around £500,000 and will link up with his new side just over a week before the season begins with a game against Derby County.
Steele, from relatively nearby Newton Aycliffe, came through the youth setup at local rivals Middlesbrough and made his breakthrough as their number one back in 2010. He won Boro’s player of the year in 2013, before eventually losing his place and moving on to Blackburn Rovers in 2015. Since then he’s been a mainstay in the Rovers side, but with their relegation to League One meaning they need to reshuffle their decks, Steele has been allowed to move on and it’s a deal which satisfies all parties concerned.
There’s a clear directive in the way that Grayson is choosing to recruit this summer - targeting Championship experienced players of a good age that are going to work hard for the team is obviously very important to the new manager, and in Steele he’ll be hoping that he’s found a stopper who knows exactly what it’s like to play for a team in the North East.
This obviously raises an issue with what is going to happen to both Mika and Max Stryjek, who despite currently being with the club could conceivably move on elsewhere before the transfer window is over. Mika has barely featured in pre-season and is yet to make a first team appearance since joining last year, whilst Stryjek would benefit from a loan move away from the club in order to prove himself further.
Trialist Robbin Ruiter is expected to start again in this evening’s pre-season friendly with Scunthorpe United, and after his impressive display at the weekend against Bradford it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he could join Steele as part of Grayson’s goalkeeping line-up ahead of next season.