Gav: Marcus Maddison!
Alright, it’s fairly well known that Maddison has loftier ambitions than League One next season, but surely a move back to the North East to play for a big club would be enough to tempt him to come here instead of playing for many of the teams in the Championship.
I used to watch Maddison when he played for Gateshead years ago and he was head and shoulders above every single player at that level even back then.
He’s developed even further at Peterborough and, last season, was the most productive player in League One - finishing the campaign with 8 goals and 16 assists.
For me, he’s absolutely perfect for what we’re trying to achieve going forward - he’s an absolute handful, creative, has a proven end product at this level, has pace and above all else that unique ability to turn a game on its head.
If I’m Stewart Donald and I’m tasked with giving the new manager enough money to properly strengthen our side, I’m making Marcus Maddison my top target.
Alex: Kieffer Moore!
The further down the divisions you drop, the more significance physicality has over flair and technique. For that reason, we’d be daft not to make a big man up top our marquee summer signing - and Barnsley’s Kieffer Moore is just that.
At the height of 6’5”, Moore is a leviathan in front of goal, but there’s more to his game than just a formidable presence. The Torquay-born striker played for League One side Rotherham prior to his move across South Yorkshire, and during his time with the Millers racked up thirteen goals in twenty-two appearances - showing clearly that he is more than a capable frontman at this level.
Given that Barnsley only just signed Moore this season, coupled with the fact that they too might see him as more of an asset in the third division, it might be tricky convincing them to part with him - but £4m goes an awful long way in League One!
Dan Parker: Erhun Oztumer!
Walsall only just survived League One last season and one of the main reasons they did, if not the main reason, was their diminutive playmaker Erhun Oztumer.
The former Sivasspor man has scored 32 goals in 95 games during his two seasons in the Midlands, which is an incredible return from a midfielder.
We struggled for goals after Grabban left midway through last season and we have struggled for creativity from midfield since Malbranque left in 2011.
Oztumer is the smallest player in the Football League, standing just 5ft 3inches, but that has hardly stunted his meteoric rise through the English system. Starting out at Dulwich Hamlet he earned a move to Peterborough by scoring 60 goals in 96 games, before moving to Walsall in 2016.
Dubbed the Turkish Messi, Oztumer has been Walsall’s top goalscorer from midfield for two consecutive seasons.
If the new manager wants to add creativity and a goalscoring knack from midfield to this Sunderland squad, he should look no further than at this fella.
Paddy: Mark McNulty!
In order to get out of League One as soon as possible we’ll need a proper goal scorer. In Mark McNulty, we’d have one who has enjoyed a fruitful campaign on the Football League.
His 22 goals in 43 appearances in the regular season pushed Coventry into the playoffs and show what kind of finisher he is. We could use this sort of form next season. Granted, he scored all of these goals in the league below but he’s shown that he deserves a chance to play at a higher level. Even if Coventry gain promotion, we would be able to prise away McNulty and put him at the top of a hard working genuine starting line up.
McNulty has had experience in the football league, playing over 100 games in at all three levels. This came after a lengthy spell in Scotland with Livingston. The most recent campaign was his most fruitful and at 25 he is approaching the prime of his career - we won’t pick a better time to get him on board.
He might not be as technical or powerful as the other players in this list, but the Irishman is a genuine goal scorer. I’ve seen the highlights of his season and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few other sides inquired about McNulty. We splash out the money, we build a good midfield to create chances for him and push ourselves towards a successful season in the third tier.
Tom Atkinson: Marvin Ducksch!
I’m not a great sleeper, and occasionally find myself watching random football highlights at bizarre o’clock in the morning. This season I’ve watched a little bit of the German second division as the highlights are relatively accessible, and I’ve been pretty impressed with the standard.
Martin Bain mentioned early in his tenure that he believed the German leagues to be full of untapped talent, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to Marvin Ducksch, who’s been on loan at Holstein Kiel from St. Pauli. It’s a shame that Bain seemingly did little to explore the German lower league system because the level of football is surprisingly impressive.
Ducksch’s 33 games in all competitions this season saw a healthy return of 18 goals and 11 assists, though this could increase as his current side, Holstein Kiel, look to seal promotion to the Bundesliga proper if they can defeat Wolfsburg over two legs - they did lose the opening tie 3-1, however.
Ducksch’s parent club, St. Pauli, are also in the 2. Bundesliga, and should Holstein Kiel fail to find promotion, perhaps the powerful, young German forward could be tempted with a move to England? If not him, I’d recommend another young German forward called Sonny Kittel who’s managed 10 goals and 16 assists this season for mid-table FC Ingoldstadt 04. Why not try our hand with a couple of young forwards who’d come at a fraction of the price of their English counterparts? Especially after the season they’ve just had.