If someone wants to buy someone like him, there’s no giveaways, they’ll have to pay a hell of a lot of money for him.
Those were the words from Chris Coleman’s mouth this past weekend in the aftermath of yet another impressive performance from Paddy McNair, who since returning from injury has been an absolute revelation at the heart of the Sunderland midfield.
He then carried on, saying:
With every club there’s coming and goings, if someone offers a King’s ransom I suppose everyone is up for grabs. But we certainly don’t want to lose him.
Were Coleman’s words merely cautionary, or is there perhaps some interest from other clubs being shown in the 22 year-old Northern Irishman?
McNair is beginning to show his genuine quality after recovering from a knee injury sustained against Hull last season, and whilst he’s only coming back into our side right at the tail end of what has been a truly arduous campaign it is important to remember that he was signed by the club with a view to playing Premier League football. Taking into account his pedigree, the price we paid for him and his experience in the game it would only be fair to expect that he’d stand out at this level.
HE'S BETTER THEN ZIDANE! @NorthernIreland's Paddy McNair's screamer gets @SunderlandAFC back into the game against @ReadingFC. #SAFC— Channel 5 Sport (@Channel5Sport) April 14, 2018
➡️ @EFL highlights from 9pm on @channel5_tv. pic.twitter.com/mmSFntiYFk
Fans will be hoping that, even in League One, the club are able to hang on to him and retain his services - he has, after all, been the driving force of a mini-revival of sorts - though it likely won’t be enough to help the club from avoiding a consecutive relegation.
That being said, McNair’s form will have undoubtedly attracted the attention of clubs across the country that find themselves in a better situation than Sunderland.
Sources close to the club have suggested to Roker Report that there are sides placed further up the food chain sniffing around McNair, but they’re keen to see if the Northern Irishman can prove his fitness in the final few games of the season as they circle our ailing club like vultures in search of carrion.
Should his form continue then the club will struggle to ward off a solid offer as we desperately continue to find a way to balance the books. Furthermore, when you consider the fact that chief negotiator Martin Bain argued the sale of Vito Mannone was astute then you have to worry about who else will be sold in the name of ‘good business’.
Unlike Josh Maja and Joel Asoro, Sunderland do have McNair tied down to a longer-term deal, with his contract not expiring until 2020. Coleman already noted this week that the “ball is in their court” with regard to Maja and Asoro’s offers of new deals but will be relieved that, should McNair be keen on an exit, the club are positioned well to either reject any bids, or indeed leverage for a better fee.
Despite uncertainty consuming the future of the club’s young stars, Coleman is still adamant that the young lads in questions should remain and for the nucleus of a new side:
It’s still a great club to be at, you know. He’s [McNair] going to be involved here, a team here will be built around him and players like him.
It genuinely feels like Coleman wants to remain past this campaign and build something from scratch, yet that likely depends on whether new ownership brings new money and momentum.
Paddy McNair will be at the forefront of those plans, and Sunderland fans will be hoping the man from Ballyclare decides to stick around and help the club bounce back from an awful run of luck.
Nick Powell is showing his undeniable talent in League One after an injury ravaged career thus far; hopefully McNair sees his fellow ex-United teammate’s journey and looks to replicate his upswing in form by sticking with a side willing to build around his talents.
McNair will be vital for the club going forward, so here’s hoping Coleman sticks around and uses the resurgent midfielder as the crux of our club’s rejuvenation.