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Sunderland set to swing the axe to prevent further financial gloom - but who will be chopped?

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With reduced income and an incredible wage bill by League One standards, the club will have to rid themselves of a host of players this summer. But, who will leave?

Bury v Sunderland - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Despite a valiant effort this past weekend away to Leeds, Sunderland are edging ever closer to a consecutive relegation that could spell disaster for the club.

Most fans know by now that the club’s finances are in a sorry state of affairs, though we will have a better understanding of our current situation once our latest set of accounts are made public sometime this month.

That being said, even without the most up to date fiscal information, it’s clear to see that when we go down the club will be in a troubling position. Subsequently, we should expect another serious overhaul of playing staff during the summer as the club looks to further trim its incredible levels of expenditure and debt through sales and free transfers.

Jack Rodwell’s pay packet alone this campaign could have financed several League One sides’ entire wage bills, such is the state of Sunderland’s plight. Furthermore, the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the club’s ownership will also make things incredibly difficult, though you would hope that Martin Bain and co. are working dilligently to ensure the club is able to function financially in the event of relegation and no new ownership.

Sunderland AFC v Udinese - Pre Season Friendly
A waste of millions.
Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images

Yesterday Alan Nixon reported in The Sun that the situation is becoming increasingly desperate at the club as those behind the scenes look to reduce an inflated wage bill in order to prevent further damage to the cub’s already delicate position:

BLACK CATS IN ESCAPE CLAWS

SUNDERLAND plan a massive clear-out as Chris Coleman’s flops head for relegation.

The Black Cats will let all of their big earners go for small fees — and some for nothing — to save them from financial disaster in League One.

They will try to persuade Didier Ndong, Lamine Kone and Aiden McGeady to leave.

Ndong cost £13.6million and is on loan at Watford. He has yet to shine but the Hornets may take him for a minimal price. Centre-half Kone was once rated at £20m but he could be given away to slash the wage bill.

Midfielder McGeady is on sky-high pay so is set to be shifted.

Insiders estimate Sunderland would have a payroll of £50-£60m in the third tier if they do not take action. That would be the biggest salary bill ever faced at the level.

Several names were mentioned in the article, though others will likely also be ready to head for the exit door when relegation is confirmed.

Players potentially leaving the club can hypothetically be split into three broad categories: those intent on leaving, those who would cost too much to keep, and those who could be sold in an attempt at raising funds.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Said to be earning big bucks, will McGead be axed in order to prevent further financial ruin?
Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

The first group of players - those likely intent on leaving the club - include the likes of Lamine Kone, Dider Ndong, Wahbi Khazri, Fabio Borini and Bryan Oviedo. The club would be hopeful that some money could be generated through their sales, though the removal of their wages would also be just as important as any cash generated from their exits.

Kone likely won’t fetch a huge sum compared to last season’s reported £20 million tag, and the same can be said of Ndong who cost the club a reported £13 million - how much of that will we realistically recoup?

Borini, Khazri and Oviedo, however, have all had relatively impressive campaigns and the club will undoubtedly hope that some cash will be generated after their exits. Will it be enough to cover the costs of their arrivals, though? Or will the club just be glad to see their wages gone?

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League
How much will Whabi fetch?
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The club is genuinely filled with a host of players who won’t be wanted due to poor form, inflated wages, or a combination of the two.

Jason Steele, Billy Jones, Adam Matthews, Papy Djilibodji, Lee Cattermole, Callum McManaman, Aiden McGeady, Jack Rodwell, and perhaps a few others will likely be offloaded for little recompense, if any, in order to reduce an absolutely incredible wage bill by League One standards.

Furthermore, Sunderland will potentially look to cash in on any saleable assets. Joel Asoro’s value will have undoubtedly grown this campaign, whilst the likes of Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair have shown glimpses of their talent despite injuries and could attract interest from the Championship or beyond. Lynden Gooch’s stock has also risen with recent performances, and the USA international could well attract interest from abroad.

In fact, it would be hard to imagine any player being forbidden from leaving should the right offer be made. Every penny will count as we frantically attempt to reduce costs ahead of life in League One.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Would the likes of Gooch be sold if a serious offer was made?
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Ultimately, incredibly difficult times lie ahead for the club. A fresh start is needed, but so too is continuity and foresight. The club will release a large number of players and will subsequently fill those spaces with players on cheaper deals for little in the way of transfer fees.

Expect a manic summer on Wearside, though should the club hold onto Chris Coleman and find fresh ownership, then optimism could well begin to flower once more.

Much like a garden fraught with weeds, our club feels strangled and unable to flourish. However, we must be careful in our attempts to cultivate a squad capable of success. Remove too much and all that’s left is a barren space that will struggle to bloom. Cut with no plan, and you’re left with a mess.

The club must be dilligent in their endeavours; however, history does little to allay our fears.