Having already raided Edinburgh for the best player from Heart of Midlothian, Sunderland have now confirmed the signing of midfielder Dylan McGeouch from their neighbours Hibernian.
The Scotland international - who was named in the Scottish Premiership team of the season alongside Jon McLaughlin, and won both the Player of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year awards at the Hibs end of season do - joins the club on a free transfer after leaving Easter Road at the end of last season following the expiration of his contract.
McGeough had offers to stay in Scotland, with Hibernian wanting him to extend his stay, facing competition from both Rangers and Aberdeen. He also reportedly had the opportunity to move to the English Championship, with both QPR and Blackburn keen on signing him.
The decision to move to Wearside was apparently swayed after he held an impressive conversation with Sunderland manager Jack Ross, who sold his vision for the club to him.
McGeouch has spent the last four years at Easter Road, joining Hibs permanently in 2015 after spending a season there on loan from Celtic. Since his move, he has made more than 120 appearances for the Hibees, including 44 in his final season under Neil Lennon, and broke into the Scotland side back in March.
That all sounds fantastic of course, but what is he actually like?
As always, we here at Roker Report cannot claim to be an expert on what McGeouch is genuinely capable of so we sat down with a friend of ours that knows a shed-load more about him - Twitter user @HibsNews1875, who gave us the low down on the former Celtic man and explained in detail just how good he really is.
RR: So... Dylan McGeouch to Sunderland. What do you make of that?
@HibsNews1875: It’s a brilliant piece of business from Jack Ross. McGeough could easily walk into the majority of English Championship teams! The only reason he probably hasn’t had as many offers as he would have liked is because of his previous injury record. However, he played 90% + of the games last season for Hibs and was different class.
McGeough was so influential last season that he won both the Players-Player-of-the-Year and Player of the Season awards, whilst being named in the SPFL Team of the Year ahead of some notable names such as Olivier Ntcham, Tom Rogic, and Callum McGregor.
RR: Should we be worried about his injury record?
@HibsNews1875: I think his injury problems are behind him. Played almost every game last season and didn’t look uncomfortable at any point. So I don’t think you need to be too concerned about that. And if he does stay injury free, you will enjoy watching him next season!
RR: What kind of player can we expect to see?
@HibsNews1875: He’s a composed, holding midfielder who likes to dictate play. He’s comfortable with the ball when dropping deep and moving the ball through the stages from defence to midfield to attack. He won’t make runs into the box but he’ll sit and offer another option whilst in attack. His performances were a major reason in Hibs finishing fourth.
RR: How well do you think he’ll fit with the new manager, who you probably know very well from Scottish football?
@HibsNews1875: Jack Ross likes to play possession and quick attacking football and that’s suited to Dylan. Doesn’t score many goals, but he’s the one who brings attacking players into play. He’s a brilliant passer of the ball and someone all football fans enjoy watching!
RR: Is there a style or formation that plays to his strengths?
@HibsNews1875: I’ve seen him in almost every possible formation: 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 3-5-2 with wing-backs and he’s always very good. Can always spot a pass. But as I’ve said, he could easily play for the majority of English Championship teams. With McGeouch in your team, you will dominate plenty of teams this season. He’s a great signing.
RR: Sounds positive. Our holding midfielders have traditionally been about breaking up play. How is he defensively?
@HibsNews1875: He’s not afraid to put a foot in either and will always give 100%. He’s got a brilliant attitude.
RR: Attitude seems to be a key factor in our recruitment this summer, as we need to desperately need to change a ‘losing’ mentality. Can McGeough be a big influence in the dressing room?
@HibsNews1875: I’ll be gutted to see him go. He played a huge part in winning our first Scottish Cup in 114 years, helping us gain promotion back to the Scottish Premiership and helping us to a top 4 finish and Europe in our first season back in the top league. So, yes, he’s got that winning mentality and he has the bottle that Sunderland will be expecting this season.
Really hope this season is the start of a change for Sunderland. Great club with great supporters and always enjoyed watching them! You’ve got a brilliant manager in Jack Ross, who will do a great job in my opinion!
Roker Report’s Verdict: ‘He’s a real coup!’
It seems likely that McGeough will replace Lee Cattermole in the holding role, and will hopefully provide us with a far greater range of creativity. Whilst goals may not be his forte, the need for a deep-lying creative presence has been lacking in recent seasons.
Signing McGeough has been something of a coup for the new owners and testament to Jack Ross’ growing reputation within the game as a manager. Hopefully McGeough will fill a huge gap in our quest to regain Championship football at the first attempt, whilst developing his own career, at both club level and internationally.
So, from all of us - welcome to Sunderland, Dylan McGeough!