Tom Adeyemi - Midfielder
Standing at 6’1, the former Norwich City academy graduate has just suffered a difficult season at Ipswich Town with his team plummeting out of the Championship.
Sunderland have been screaming out for a tall, physical box to box midfielder for what seems like forever. Last summer we chased Reading’s George Evans in an attempt to fill that void, but after a failure to secure his signature we instead went into the 2018/19 campaign with an array of smaller, deep-lying midfielders.
We could do worse than bringing in a central midfielder like Adeyami who is in his prime at 27-years-old, over 6ft tall and with considerable experience in the league above, injecting much needed strength and pace in the middle of the park.
There are doubts surrounding his fitness after an injury plagued eighteen months at Portman Road but, should we manage him carefully, he could prove to be a huge asset and all at a cost of absolutely nothing.
Moses Odubajo - Right-back
A former England U20 international, Odubajo has had a difficult few seasons, but at just 25-year-old still has more than enough time to reach his undoubted potential.
Signed by our old pal Steve Bruce at Hull City for £3.5m from Brentford back in 2015, the full back was part of the Tigers side that achieved promotion to the Premier League that season via the Play-Offs.
With Adam Matthews likely to leave the club this summer and Donald Love’s future up in the air, Jack Ross will want competition for the lovable Luke O’Nien at right back and, in my opinion, there aren’t many better cost-effective options than Odubajo - that’s if he’d fancy the drop down to League One, of course.
Zeli Ismail - Winger
The former Wolves ‘wonderkid’ is a bit of an enigma and his recent relegation with Walsall means eyebrows would certainly be raised, but that said, he is one of those players capable of turning a game around in an instant with his speed and trickery.
Whilst we already have the likes of Aiden McGeady and Chris Maguire available who operate in a similar fashion, they’re both in their 30s and, as they get older, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be as durable next season as they have been in the past.
Highly rated as a teenager, Ismail climbed through the ranks at Wolverhampton Wanderers and was touted as the next potential star to emerge from the Midlands, with his former academy manager Chris Evans commenting that he could “see enormous money being spent on Zeli.”
Adding pace in wide areas and in behind the striker, particularly as we need to replace Lewis Morgan, is essential and there are worse options out there than Ismail, who won’t be short of offers this summer.
Ryan Tafazolli - Centre-back
The Iranian-English centre-back is already in huge demand with Championship clubs Swansea City, Hull City, Preston and Luton Town linked to the 6’4 defender after he impressed in League One last term.
Tafazolli was a product of Southampton’s talent churning academy and was Peterborough’s stand out defender despite their failure to secure a League One play-off spot last term.
With the departure of Jimmy Dunne, and the shaky form of Jack Baldwin and Tom Flanagan, Jack Ross HAS to be in the market for a number of centre-backs, both for the first eleven and back-up.
If Tafazolli can be convinced to turn down interest from the Championship in favour of the Stadium of Light, it’ll go some way to strengthening what is currently a weak crop of central defenders for next season.
Lawrence Shankland - Striker
Lawrence Shankland is out of contract and is certain to move away from the Scottish Championship. After scoring 34 goals in just 41 games last season it would be no surprise to see him land at Sunderland, or a club of similar stature, particularly since it has been stated repeatedly over the last twelve months or so that we’ve been tracking the prolific Scottish striker.
The 23-year-old has already confirmed he is not renewing his deal with Ayr United and his manager Ian McCall has admitted that Shankland is considering offers from English clubs, commenting “one club in particular would suit him, a sleeping giant type club” - could he be talking about us?
Whilst it would be a shrewd move, there’s bound to be doubts for the youngster on how much playing time he would get in a side that already possesses the quality and experience of Charlie Wyke and Will Grigg.
However, should Shankland decide to take on the challenge of playing in front of an expectant Sunderland crowd, it could present him with the ideal opportunity to show he has what it takes to perform on the big stage, week-in-week-out.