After listening to this week’s Roker Rapport Podcast the topic of Josh Maja and Joel Asoro’s futures at the club really stood out in my mind. With this season inching closer to its curtain call, Sunderland must look to start planning for the future - whether that be in the Championship or League One.
Money, of course, is the focal point around which all future endeavours swirl and, with our precarious financial standing looming overhead ominously, the club must take measures in order to secure our position moving forward.
The shortening contracts of youngsters Joel Asoro and Josh Maja are one major issue that must be resolved sooner rather than later because these young forwards represent the future of our football club - whether playing for us, or elsewhere.
CC: That is what we have been looking for in the last two games and that's what we got. In terms of the lads' honesty and intensity they were fantastic. pic.twitter.com/yd60nSuYV4— Sunderland AFC ⚪ (@SunderlandAFC) February 24, 2018
With the pair’s contracts running out in the summer of 2019, Sunderland must act swiftly in order to try and tie these young men down to long-term deals. Martin Bain must make their contract extensions a top priority if they are keen to stay on improved terms; however, if the lads look to push a move elsewhere, then unfortunately the club must then explore the option of potential sales.
It goes without saying that nigh on every Sunderland fan hopes that both players stay and continue their development - especially if we find ourselves in League One next season where both of them could potentially thrive with their blossoming talent.
Yet, the position we find ourselves in financially suggests we should also accept that holding onto these lads should they pursue moves elsewhere could be disastrous and if we do hold onto them, then we might potentially miss out on sizable transfer fees should they move on after their contracts expire.
Jermain Defoe’s exit last summer should have set a precedent, but as of right now it feels like perhaps the club have taken their eye off the ball somewhat by not immediately finalizing improved terms in order to strengthen our overall position with Asoro and Maja.
Of course, as far as we know negotiations might well be under way, but with both lads having played a large number of games so far under Coleman, many would likely have hoped to see the news that both players had agreed extensions to their current deals already this season.
It’s telling that Chris Coleman has placed so much faith into these two young men; he clearly feels they have a lot to offer this club. Recent performances have vindicated his decision to promote both forwards, and Asoro in particular has really started to impress, with his pace and direct nature a real positive in recent games.
Maja is a much more technical player, and with limited service provided to the lad it’s hard to be critical of someone who demonstrated in pre-season that he definitely has an eye for goal. Surrounded by Khazri and Lens in pre-season Maja really showed his worth but, without vibrant players around him, young Josh has somewhat struggled to look as clinical.
Of course, both players are still incredibly young and inexperienced, yet their desire to succeed is clear for all to see. They may have flaws to their game, but week after week they look stronger and more composed.
They are bright sparks in a gloomy season, and if we are to succeed as a club we simply have to find a way to extend these lads’ current deals. Whether they play for this club next season or not, they are valuable players in more ways than one - Sunderland must ensure the club thrives thanks to their precocious talents.