When you look at teams within League One this season, and equally seasons gone by, there always seems to be good use of the loan system. Plenty of players have arrived temporarily in the third tier from higher divisions and had an impact, though Sunderland always seem to have used it poorly, where others have had great success.
Since falling into League One we have loaned Jerome Sinclair; Kaziah Sterling; Lewis Morgan; Jimmy Dunne; Declan John; Antoine Semenyo; Laurens De Bock; Marc McNulty; and Dion Sanderson. Other than Semenyo, who is now a regular for Bristol City, and Sanderson, who is still here at present, all the others did not set the world alight during their stint. I’ll give an honourable mention to Jimmy Dunne, who has managed a start and a goal for Burnley in the Premier League, though I’m a little surprised that happened!
My aim here is to present five options that Sunderland could consider to help solve our issues with creativity, pace and goals within our midfield and attack, and really get good use out of a system that served us well when we were a top flight outfit.
Taylor Perry – Central Midfielder – Wolves – 19
Sunderland have struggled to find a regular creative outlet centrally as well as goals, and Perry could be an answer to these problems.
The 19-year-old central midfielder has 7 goals for Wolves’ Under 23s this season and Wolves appear keen to loan him out. Wolves’ academy coach has stated that:
[Perry] should score goals…. He should be a 10-15 goal a season player and is ready for the EFL.
Perry has already played in the Europa League and League Cup for Wolves, so he has first team experience, plus the presence of Dion Sanderson already at the club may allow for a smoother move for the player and for Wolves.
He has been described as making “Lampard runs” from deep to take up scoring positions, and that is certainly the kind of player Sunderland could do with, particularly with Lee Johnson’s early indications being that he would like to get more midfielders forward to support the attack.
At the very least, Perry is one to watch.
Nathan Tella – Winger – Southampton – 21
Although Sunderland have boosted their options in wider areas thanks to the return of Aiden McGeady, and the emergence of Jack Diamond, it is still an area that could do with more options. Injuries to Lynden Gooch, poor form from Aiden O’Brien and the advancing age of both McGeady and Chris Maguire, suggests it is an area that should be strengthened.
Tella is a former Arsenal academy product, who is known for his pace and good balance whilst on the ball. He is seemingly well regarded by the Southampton management, making his debut in June and has made a further four appearances from the bench this season. However, at 21 years of age, he needs to make an impact sooner rather than later.
As well as playing wide, Tella has shown versatility being deployed at right back and centrally whilst playing for the Under 23s. This is something that could be useful with Sunderland having thin options at full back should it be required.
It could be a bit of a long shot due to Tella’s smattering of first team opportunities for Southampton this season, playing as recently as the 19th December, though it is worth noting that he had barely been used before that, so could still be an option.
Charlie Patino – Central Midfielder – Arsenal – 17
This youngster, again, could provide some more legs and inventiveness to Sunderland’s midfield, where things have been a little stagnant.
Likened to Phil Foden, Patino is a 5”11 central midfielder who is capable of taking on his man and has a wide ranger of passing to accompany it. Despite not being a giant, having a player just shy of six foot would add some height to our side, as well as providing some drive due to his dribbling ability from central areas. Being left footed could also be an asset, providing some additional balance.
Although 17 is young for someone to play at a senior level, Patino was invited to train with Arsenal’s first team by Mikel Arteta when he was just 16 years of age, suggesting the Arsenal hierarchy have considerable support for his abilities. Alongside this, it has been mooted that Patino is better at his current age than Jack Wilshere was, who despite not living up to his potential, showed that he had the attributes to be a good player.
His lack of senior experience could be an issue, but it creates an opportunity for a club like Sunderland to provide that chance. Arsenal have been happy to loan other prospects out to League One sides in the past, such Tyreece John-Jules at Doncaster and Trae Coyle at Gillingham, both of which have impressed whilst there this season.
Folarin Balogun – Striker – Arsenal – 19
Sticking with the Arsenal theme, Sunderland could do with some bolstering in the goals department with only Charlie Wyke being able to display any kind of consistent threat. Will Grigg and Danny Graham have proved themselves to be completely hopeless, so it would make sense for us to get someone to provide support up front.
Balogun is a New York-born forward who has developed well over the last few years, appearing for all England youth levels up to under 20s to this point.
He has been described as physically strong with good hold up play, a keen dribbler, adept at shooting from distance as well as being technically proficient. He is held in high regard by Arsenal supporters, with many believing he can be better than Eddie Nketiah, who has had a considerable taste of the first team following Championship loans.
It was reported that Brentford had a £5m offer rejected by Arsenal in January, which shows the regard Arsenal have for him, as well as the interest he is garnering within football as a whole.
Based upon this, a loan move seems the most likely outcome next for Balogun and Sunderland would be a great place to test out his abilities, particularly in a squad begging for goals and a bit of extra class.
Sam Bell – Striker – Bristol City – 18
Another striker, and this time with a bit of Lee Johnson connection due to his previous affiliation with Bristol City.
Bell is the son of Mickey Bell who made 292 appearances for City, and is described as a pacy forward capable of using both feet effectively. He made his debut earlier this month in a 1-0 defeat to Birmingham City, and is seen as one for the future.
His appearance suggests Bristol City’s current management see potential in him and it is something that their supporters echo. A member of Bristol City’s fan forum described him as a “younger, faster, Nakhi Wells”, which is a pretty good endorsement with Wells having a good record at League One and Championship levels.
He would certainly be an attainable target, and managers have been regularly known to go back to former clubs to attract talent for their current team - though hopefully it’s not of the David Moyes variety.