It’s fair to say that the signing of Kazenga LuaLua from Brighton on Thursday evening raised an eyebrow or two among Sunderland fans.
With a striker and central midfielder both positions that could desperately do with strengthening this window, the acquisition of LuaLua - a tricky wide-man by trade - certainly did seem somewhat unorthodox. Even more so when you look to the bench and see Aiden McGeady and Callum McManaman warming those plush leather seats.
That being said, upon closer inspection, the LuaLua deal begins to make more sense the longer you muse its usefulness - but only provided Coleman has more targets in mind.
One would imagine Coleman does indeed have a list of targets that he hopes to have with him at the SoL by the end of Wednesday evening, with a central midfielder and a striker surely the key positions looking to be reinforced.
The acquisition of LuaLua, however, also asks another question: are there certain players in the Sunderland side that Coleman might consider moving on should the opportunity arise?
McGeady and McManaman are two names that will begin to be whispered about largely thanks to the arrival of LuaLua. With Duncan Watmore - waxed lyrically during the week by Chris Coleman - out with another serious knee injury, does the signing of the former Brighton wide-man suggest one of our current gaggle of wingers is likely to be moved on?
When asked about why LuaLua was brought to the club, Coleman responded by noting:
Kaz was determined to come here and get playing first-team football again and I look forward to helping him play the kind of football he is capable of.
He’s quick, skillful and has a lot of experience at this level. He gives us another option in attack and, most importantly, is up for the fight.
I might be reading too much into this, but that final statement about ‘fight’ was rather interesting. Was that another thinly veiled swipe at Rodwell, or was Coleman perhaps suggesting there’s another player or two not quite pulling their weight behind the scenes? Time will tell.
Of course, perhaps Coleman is merely looking for options, both in shape and depth. Could the arrival of Kazenga LuaLua suggest a new formation and tactical approach? Or perhaps a new role for the man born in Kinshasa?
Coleman has tinkered with several approaches both when in charge of Wales and indeed Sunderland. Earlier this season he attempted to play with wide forwards, yet McGeady and McManaman simply didn’t offer enough pace and creativity.
Subsequently, he switched to a front two with a man in behind the strikers - the same system that saw Hull put to the sword last weekend. But, could LuaLua find himself asked to play in behind the forward, or as a forward himself?
His trickery, pace, direct nature, and work-rate are all sufficiently developed to allow him to play in a more advanced role - indeed, Coleman has prior with moving players into that advanced midfield role with Gareth Bale, Jonny Williams and Aaron Ramsey all tasked with linking play between midfield and attack for Wales despite not necessarily specializing in that role.
It’s more likely, though, that LuaLua will be deployed as a wide forward given license to roam in the opposition’s final third whilst also being asked to contribute defensively when needed - much in the mold of the injured Duncan Watmore who could potentially play as part of a front-three with LuaLua and another forward.
Ultimately, the signing of Kazenga LuaLua gives Coleman much-needed options. Pace out wide with the ability to stretch a defence whilst forcing opposition players to keep one eye on his movement and flair - LuaLua could help this team going forward.
No matter where he’s asked to line up, or how we decide to play the game, one thing is for sure: Coleman has faith in the man and believes he is desperate to prove his worth. I’d normally take those words with a pinch of salt were it any other manager saying them; however, there’s something about Coleman and his manner that just oozes belief and inspires confidence.
With the precarious position we find ourselves in, we sorely need dynamic players with a drive to fight. From what I know of LuaLua, and what Chris Coleman has noted about his personality, I think the former Brighton man could potentially be an astute signing for the club.
Of course we need a striker and a robust central midfielder that can link up the play, but will I turn my nose up at signing before watching him step foot on the pitch and kick a ball in anger? No chance.
Here’s hoping LuaLua goes on to be a great player for our beloved club.