Jake Hannah says: “Keep!”
For me this is a no-brainer. We need to keep Oviedo to have the best chance in this league.
Stewart Donald and co. have done a stellar job so far of offloading a number of the club’s high earners. Obviously there is still a remit to cut down on the wage budget, but I think we could make the exception for the attacking full back.
Ideally, Cattermole will be on his way which would ease the financial strain on our playing squad in a similar sort of way that selling Oviedo would, but Catts doesn’t quite offer as much anymore.
Just look at the Charlton game on Saturday. Take away all the emotion (pretty much impossible, I know) and see how influential Oviedo was. The quality of his delivery at times is exceptional, as he showed for the winning goal and Sinclair’s chance. We looked a much better side when he entered the fray and will continue to do so against teams who allow him the time and space to play his natural game.
The way he fits into Jack Ross’ system though is a point I particularly want to stress. It is the world’s worst kept secret that Oviedo likes to attack, and the 4-2-3-1 (Ross’ preferred system throughout pre-season and for the opening 45 on Saturday) utilises the wider players of the ‘3’ as inside forwards - players who will get in and around the striker, in turn leaving space for the full backs to exploit.
With the arrival of Charlie Wyke, it is imperative that we have the option of getting crosses into the box while Gooch and Maguire can feed off any knockdowns.
As we are all quickly finding out, Jack Ross is a manager who will not hang about to make changes. Although there is an argument of the formation change being forced, he could have quite easily stuck Oviedo into a back four and kept things the same.
Ross instead switched to three at the back, with Oviedo being used as one of the wing-backs - a role which relaxes him of as much defensive responsibility and highlights his main strength, attacking.
My argument is not that Oviedo needs to start every game, but is an important asset to the team that can provide that quality delivery when it really matters in tight games. Every team on their way to promotion needs to show those moments of magic at times, and he could definitely provide that.
Matthew Crichton says: “Sell!”
Now whilst I will admit Bryan Oviedo is the best full back currently at the club, I do not think he is fully committed to our project going forward, and we simply cannot have a player earning £42,000 a week when the majority of the squad are earning nothing anywhere near that amount.
You could argue the Costa Rican international showed he wanted to stay with his excellent substitute appearance against Charlton this weekend, but I think It is clear Oviedo is playing for a move and will see his future away from the Stadium of Light. You can respect the player for not replicating the actions of want-away duo Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji, however we cannot offer praise to players for simply doing the job they are paid so heavily to do.
The sale of Oviedo would bring in much needed funds at Sunderland, but most importantly it would clear a huge percentage of our wage bill, preventing any disparity in the squad (bearing Cattermole goes too). The left back has two years left on his current deal meaning Sunderland are under no pressure to accept a low offer, with his appearances at the World Cup surely aiding our potential profit for the player who was one of our more consistent defenders during last season.
Throughout the transfer window Sunderland have prepared for the loss of Oviedo by signing two players with previous League One experience in left back Reece James from Wigan, as well as Tom Flanagan from Burton Albion who can play anywhere across the back four. As well as that, Adam Matthews covered against Charlton briefly and we do have Academy graduate Denver Hume completing what looks to be healthy competition.
I believe once the opportunity arrives, Oviedo will jump at the chance to leave Sunderland in order to play in a higher league, as well maintain his place in the Costa Rican national side. I do not think he is committed to Sunderland’s long-term project and therefore if the money is right we should allow him to move on.