Millers striker linked
Sunderland have been linked with a move for Rotherham United striker Jerry Yates.
The 23-year-old is set to be a free agent from July 1 after his contract with the newly promoted Championship club expires, and Football Insider claim that Sunderland are hoping to sign him ahead of next season.
Yates spent the season on loan at League Two Swindon Town, where he scored 13 goals in 31 games as the Robins were promoted as champions thanks to the points per game system.
Wolves set to sign Sunderland ‘target’
Sunderland had been linked with a move for Aston Villa goalkeeper Matija Sarkic, who is out of contract at the end of the month and has not been offered a new deal by the Premier League side.
The player was said to be keen to move on in search of first team football but the Express and Star claim that Wolverhampton Wanderers are his preferred destination.
The report claim that the player has other offers on the table but Sarkic is in talks with Wolves over a move, with the Molineux club keen to sign him on a free transfer and then send the Montenegrin out on loan to gain first team experience.
Ba on his Sunderland experience
French side RC Lens are set to star in their own version of Sunderland ‘Til I Die as L’Equipe will broadcast Lens: Of Blood and Gold later this month.
French newspaper La Void Du Nord interviewed a player who has played for both teams, El Hadji Ba, to discusses the similarities between the two teams and to talk to the midfielder about his experiences with Sunderland.
Ba said that going from Le Havre to Sunderland was like going to another world, with the facilities and even the cars in the car park being far different than what he was used to with the Ligue 2 club:
I landed in another world. The coach at the time was Martin O’Neill. I came from Le Havre, a humble Ligue 2 club. Everything there has been increased tenfold.
The facilities were crazy. There were three swimming pools, including an Olympic one, jacuzzis, ten physiotherapists.
In the parking lot, there were only Bentleys or Ferraris. In Le Havre, we all drove in Clio or in Opel Corsa!. I wondered if I was in Sunderland and not in Chelsea or Manchester United!
For football fans in France, Sunderland, that doesn’t necessarily speak. But there, it’s a very respected club, which has the best supporters in the country, with Newcastle and Liverpool perhaps.
The current Guingamp player was asked if the difference to French football was so glaring:
It was the Premier League.
After signing my contract, a telephone representative arrived and offered to choose between two telephones. I hesitated so he gave me both!
Same, then for the choice of a car. Well, there, I only took one, huh!
At the time, some players in the locker room were earning 300,000 euros per month. When their striker Steven Fletcher signed for OM in 2016 from Sunderland, few people knew him in France. There, he was a star who had a huge salary. Well, England is another culture of football. Including in stadiums.
Are Lens and Sunderland so similar?
It looks very similar.
These are two northern clubs with a very strong history. They are both rooted in the heart of the city, linked to their inhabitants.
There is also this loyalty. In Sunderland, even in the third division, there are at least 25,000 spectators at the stadium. In France, often, when there are people in L1, it is to observe the opposing teams and the stars. In Lens, people just love their club. We have seen it in L2 in recent seasons. Like Sunderland, even in National [the French third tier], there would be people in [Stade] Bollaert!
You seem to have been taken by the passion in Sunderland:
The English have this culture in their blood. That of meeting at the bar before games, going to the stadium, pushing their team even when it takes a beating. When we took a 4-0 [defeat], if we had given everything, we were applauded.
When I arrived in Lens, I was not surprised by the fervor. I had known England. But it was so beautiful to see. Because I knew that in France, living this type of atmosphere is very rare.
Lens fans moved everywhere. When you know the region, and the difficulties encountered by many, you know what their sacrifices are to come and encourage us.
The two teams are going through a difficult decade, does that side bring them together now?
Clearly. I saw the match lost by Sunderland for promotion against Charlton.
I played for both clubs, but I’m for Sunderland. They lost the promotion to the Championship at the last minute.
But whatever happens, players will never fight alone. It’s the same for Lens. Because there, like in Racing, the fans come to the stadium with the family. There are grandparents, parents, children. There are many women too. And this passion spans generations.