Sunderland have struggled in front of goal recently. As such, the side could do with a forward capable of scoring goals as well as bringing something extra to Sunderland’s overall play. Who should we go for?
Tom Atkinson says...
Name: Rasmus Wiedesheim-Paul
Club: HBK (Sweden)
I was considering both Armand Gnanduillet of Blackpool and Jonson Clarke-Harris of Bristol Rovers, but looking through a host of stats across multiple lower-tier leagues in Europe, Rasmus Wiedesheim-Paul stood out for me.
With 19 goals in 29 games, the 20-year-old Swedish forward excelled during the Swedish second tier’s March-November season.
You can find a host of match HBK’s highlights on Youtube, and in those you’ll see that the young Swede scores goals of all kinds. His movement is impressive, he has good acceleration, clever hold up play with impressive physicality (he stands a little over 6ft), and clearly an eye for goal.
Involved in 44% of HBK’s goals during an impressive season that saw the side come 6th in the Superettan, Wiedesheim-Paul bagged a goal every 107 minutes. In comparison, Will Grigg has a rate of one goal in every 626 minutes, Wyke is one in every 568 minutes, and McNulty is one in every 290 minutes.
Sunderland are in need of a striker brimming with confidence, eager to get into positions to make things happen for the team. Furthermore, Wiedesheim-Paul would likely be available for a pretty meagre price making the gamble on signing him a small one to pay - especially if he lives up to his potential.
With Janne Wilkman being hired by the club to be a Nordic scout, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wiedesheim-Paul recommended to Phil Parkinson as an option this January should the Sunderland boss be keen to add a goalscoring threat to his side.
Graham Falk says...
Name: Jonson Clarke-Harris
Club: Bristol Rovers
As Tom mentioned above, Clarke-Harris is a player a few people have taken notice of over the past year, and I'd go all out to sign the former Coventry man in January.
Bristol Rovers have been punching above their weight since the turn of the year and many Pirates fans would attribute their relative success to this guy. Clarke-Harris has been in sensational form, scoring 11 in 16 last season, and 7 in 10 already this term. He's a seasoned pro at League One level and has also performed in the Championship with Rotherham United, so there’s reason to believe that he has the ability to grow with us should we get the promotion we desire.
He's played at Coventry City, a heavyweight at this level despite all their faults, and succeeded at the Ricoh Arena, even when the club were at a low ebb and struggling to stave off relegation from League One, or push for promotion from League Two.
It wouldn’t take him long to fit in either, with his old Coventry City team-mates Lee Burge, Marc McNulty and Jordan Willis forming part of his old side’s first eleven when the Sky Blues rose from the ashes to win both the Checkatrade Trophy and League Two play-offs back in 2017. He's got a bit of swagger that comes across in his game, with all the attributes you'd want at this level too. He's just over 6ft and built like a tank.
Whilst there are many people who turn their nose up at big, aggressive forwards and see them as League One plodders, this guy has more about him than that and it's exactly what Sunderland lack. Marc McNulty is nippy, but can often be out-muscled, Charlie Wyke is not very mobile and seems to be prone to picking up knocks, whilst Will Grigg is... argh.
At 25, Clarke-Harris is the ideal age, in ideal form and has shown he isn't overawed by expectation. Go get him.