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Sunderland linked with deadline day swoop for MK Dons attacker; but is he any good? The verdict

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As Sunderland scour the market for last minute additions to their attacking ranks, League One’s Chuks Aneke is said to be on Chris Coleman’s radar - but is he any good?

Milton Keynes Dons v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

As deadline day approaches, Sunderland have been credited with an interest in MK Dons attacker Chuks Aneke.

Originating from a Guardian Sport journalist, any transfer is seemingly dependent upon the Black Cats raising some funds from the sale of Didier Ndong to either Watford or West Ham.

Aneke has been with MK Dons since the summer of 2016 and has turned out 18 times in League One this season, scoring six times and bagging a handful of assists. The 24-year-old’s versatility would appeal to a Sunderland side finding goals hard to come by.

Standing at 6ft 3in, Aneke is an attacking midfielder who can also operate as a second striker or sit deeper in the middle of the park.

Aneke rose through the Arsenal youth system and had spells out on loan at Stevenage, Preston and Crewe before being released in 2014. Turning down an offer from Leeds, the Londoner signed for Zulte Waregem and went on to make over 40 appearances during a two year spell in Belgium.

A nasty knee injury curtailed his spell in the Pro League and Aneke signed an initial 12-month contract with MK Dons which was extended by a further two years last summer.

Milton Keynes Dons v Oldham Athletic - Sky Bet League One
Aneke in action for MK Dons this season
Photo by Harry Hubbard/Getty Images

But, is he any good? We collared ESPN contributor and MK Dons fan Matt McGinn to get the lowdown:

Chuks Aneke boasts a rare blend of power and technique. He stands at six-foot-three and his build is of the brick-outhouse variety. Yet his control, link-up play, and dead-ball ability betray a player who developed at Arsenal.

As a result, he is comfortable in a possession-based and more direct systems. Aneke does not have the pace to play off the shoulder of the last man (although he is difficult to stop once in his stride), but he will occupy defenders and use his technical armoury to allow his strike partner to flourish.

Aneke’s natural position is No.10, but he was also used as a target man by Robbie Neilson - our former manager, whose departure will be mourned by few in Milton Keynes. He has not played for Dan Micciche - Neilson’s replacement - because he is serving a suspension for grabbing a handful of John-Joe O’Toole’s face in a recent match at Northampton.

Aneke is only in League One because of injuries. His fitness continues to be an issue. He has struggled with knee and hamstring problems since arriving from Belgium 18 months ago. If, however, he can remain fit, he is a solid Championship-level player with a unique set of attributes.

Northampton Town v Milton Keynes Dons - Sky Bet League One
Aneke was sent off in his last League One match
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

The Verdict

Aneke has proven himself to be a key figure in an MK Dons squad currently floating around the lower reaches of League One. He has struggled with injuries but when he has played, Chuks has invariably been the best player on the pitch.

For a Sunderland side sorely lacking punch and power, Aneke would bring a fresh dimension, but he is unproven and his injury record will naturally be a concern. Saying that, he’s been a regular in League One since September without missing a game so perhaps the run of lay-offs which has stalled his development are now behind him.