Although Sunderland offered their first-choice goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin a new deal last week, he left the club today in order to sign for Glasgow Rangers. Sunderland, therefore, are left with Lee Burge and young goalkeeper Anthony Patterson.
Due to our current financial situation it is likely the club will look into the free agent market, or perhaps look to loan an upcoming goalkeeper who is in need of senior football. Below are five suggestions the club could look to sign to replace last season’s number one.
Matija Sarkic - free agent from Aston Villa
Last month Sunderland were linked with Montenegrin international goalkeeper Matija Sarkic, who is set to leave Aston Villa due to being behind the likes of Tom Heaton, Jed Steer and Orjan Nyland. The 22-year-old impressed last season at Livingston in the Scottish Premier League on loan, keeping six clean sheets in 14 matches and winning the club’s Young Player of The Year award despite being recalled in January.
Sarkic earned his first international cap for Montenegro on the back of that form, and is leaving Villa Park to seek regular first-team football. The Montenegrin would be a gamble due to his lack of experience, but it may be one worth taking should the club feel he has the potential to develop into an elite level goalkeeper.
Calum Brown, Co-Host of the TalkLivi Podcast, said:
Matija Sarkic was an unknown quantity when he arrived at Livingston last season on loan from Aston Villa. He began his spell as second-choice, but when he got his chance he grabbed it with both gloves.
He is a fantastic shot stopper with brilliant reflexes, and is very good with the ball at his feet - as shown with a tremendous assist in a 2-0 victory over Celtic. The only criticism of Sarkic would be his lack of presence from set pieces/crosses, which many goalkeepers struggle with at a young/inexperienced age, that will come as he gets older and more games.
Kieran O’Hara - free agent from Man Utd
Despite Manchester United not confirming whether O’Hara will be offered a new deal, at 24 it seems likely he will leave to obtain first-team football. O’Hara enjoyed a productive spell at Sunderland’s League One rivals Burton Albion last season becoming a fan favourite, as well as making his debut for the Republic of Ireland.
The best goalkeepers always gain experience from a young age, such as Jordan Pickford and Dean Henderson, O’Hara has spent time on loan at Morecambe, Macclesfield and Burton racking up over 100 senior appearances. I believe signing a young upcoming goalkeeper who has impressed at this level on a Bosman would be a sensible piece of business by Sunderland.
Daniel Johnson, writer for Vavel EFL, said:
It became clear to me after only a few weeks that Kieran O’Hara is a fantastic goalkeeper. His athleticism and cat-like reflexes are two of his main attributes, and these skills made him arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the league this season. During his time at Burton Albion, Jon McLaughlin was praised for his incredible shot-stopping, something which O’Hara shares in abundance.
However, Kieran has shown on several occasions his lack of experience, with a few goals being conceded due to little mistakes – something which will need to be ironed out if he is to make his way up the footballing ladder. His recent spat with officials is also something the Republic of Ireland international will need to stamp out of his game.
Jordan Archer - free agent from Fulham
Signed as cover for Marek Rodak and Marcus Bettinelli, Fulham may choose to release Archer should they be promoted, or he himself may leave to obtain first-team football. You may remember the Scottish international from a few years back, where he battled with Robbin Ruiter to see who could make the worst error in a match between Millwall and Sunderland, although that does not help my argument...
Archer played regular football for Millwall in League One and the Championship and enjoyed a productive short-term spell at Oxford keeping three clean sheers in six league games. Aged 27, Archer is too young to waste his career as a third choice and would be a credible option for Sunderland to strengthen their goalkeeping options.
George Dugdale, of BT Sport, said:
The curious case of Jordan Archer. Where to start?! He signed as a free agent to cover the injured Simon Eastwood in the busy December period and did his job reasonably after coming in from the cold. I would say that he looked a modern goalkeeper. He wanted to play out from the back and although his distribution was perhaps rusty at times, you could see the technique was there.
The bigger worries came under the high ball where there were some scary moments. As a shot-stopper, he did well. I call him a curious case because he came into a first team environment after being without a club, so you would say that in all fairness, we didn’t see him at his very best. I think there could be an able goalkeeper there, but the situation in which we saw him play wouldn’t have allowed him to show it.
I’d feel safe to say that he is an able number two at least. Whether he’s the number one for a promotion chasing side, only a sustained run of football would reveal the truth.
Daniel Iversen - loan from Leicester City
Sunderland Echo journalist Phil Smith recently highlighted on the Roker Rapport Podcast that Sunderland have failed to utilise the loan market effectively. Should the club decide to go down the loan route, a fantastic option would be Leicester’s Danish goalkeeper Dan Iverson, who spent last season winning promotion on loan at Rotherham.
Iversen has impressed across the last two seasons with Oldham and Rotherham, as well as posessing 60 caps at youth level for Denmark. With no chance of Kasper Schmeichel being dropped Iversen is likely to be loaned out again, the question will be as to whether he moves up to the Championship. If Sunderland pursue this move I imagine many clubs will be interested, but Iversen is the type of young upcoming player we should seek to loan.
Kelham Hilton, writer for Vavel EFL, said:
Daniel Iversen came to the New York Stadium with big shoes to fill, we had Marek Rodak on loan from Fulham for the previous two seasons who was one the best goalkeepers I’ve seen play for the club.
Iversen came with a good pedigree, he’d had a strong season at Oldham and was very impressive for Denmark in the U21 Euro’s last year. I was expecting big things and he didn’t disappoint.
He’s a great shot-stopper and plays like he’s a veteran, it’s amazing to think he’s only 22-years-old. I’d love for him to come back to Rotherham next season, my feeling is that Leicester will probably look to loan him to a bigger side and good luck to him wherever he goes.
In my view, he’s destined to be both Leicester and Denmark’s number-one in a few years.
Caoimhín Kelleher - loan from Liverpool
Finally, we have the most ambitious of the five - Caoimhín Kelleher. Liverpool have expressed their desire to loan out the Irishman next season, after he played regular football in the Carabao and FA cups. I imagine many Championship clubs will be interested, but I would argue he would be more likely to retain a starting place in League One.
Playing in a big stadium with an intense atmosphere under high pressure to succeed, Kelleher would experience the kind of pressure he would be under at Anfield. Signing a young up and coming prospect with a point to prove would be a breath of fresh air compared to the ageing players we often sign who join for the pay check. What would a 33-year-old Ben Alnwick have to prove?
Belinder Bhati, of the Goal Diggers Podcast, said:
Liverpool’s Assistant Manager, Pepijn Lijnders, revealed earlier this season that the club stopped Kelleher from going out on loan this year as they believed he was ready to be more involved, and that he has been.
With Alisson being out for long periods, Kelleher has often found himself as the back up to Adrian, featuring on the bench nine times and making his debut in the Carabao Cup against MK Dons. He’s played four games this campaign in both the EFL cup and FA cup, winning 3 of them, including the infamous 5-5 against Arsenal where he became the hero on the night by saving Dani Ceballos’ penalty to see Liverpool progress to the next round.
While his shot stopping techniques are still somewhat raw and need developing, it’s clear he’s a talented prospect who excels in his quick reactions on the goal line as well as his footwork and calmness on the ball.