Would you take the cash and sell Bali Mumba, or do everything you could to keep him at the club?
Martin Wanless says...
If reports that he’s turned down a contract extension – and therefore could leave at the end of his contract in a year’s time – are true, then accepting the bid is probably the right decision – if we have no intention of playing him in the first team next season.
Looking through past compensation figures for young players, we’d be lucky to get over £350,000 for Bali at a tribunal at this stage of his career. Combine that with the rumours that FIFA want to do away with tribunals and decide they prefer the easy-admin option of out of contract young players going for a fixed fee, you can argue it makes sense to accept the bid.
Especially given the perceived financial state of the club. The arrangements to refund fans, announced last week, clearly shows we are struggling cashflow-wise at least, and this deal may be a necessity to keep the club running until supporters are allowed back into the Stadium.
From a footballing perspective alone, my preference would be to give him a chance in the first team and let him prove himself.
He’s a highly-rated prospect, one who’s well thought at international level. On face value, I’d rather see Mumba given a chance next season than Jay Spearing or George Dobson.
If he’s turned down a new contract because he’s not being given a chance, a regular spot may increase the chances of him signing a new deal.
The Josh Maja saga, however, will still cause Stewart Donald sleepless nights. And, from a business perspective, it may be a case of taking what’s on the table, because there are too many unknowns right now.
Reece Davies says...
We simply have to keep him. There is nothing positive about this club at present and it could be a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel if we do hold onto Mumba. While I am not saying Bali is or ever will be a world beater, the fact remains we know that he has potential and giving him a run of games at this level could be the making of him. I argued the case for Benji Kimpioka in my last contribution, and I really do feel that these two could provide us with something next season.
Although in very different times, we have too often sold our academy products for nowt and the vast majority are now doing way better than our club, see: John Egan, Conor Hourihane, and Martyn Waghorn. I know we made decent money for Henderson and Pickford but they are isolated cases.
The fact is, we get players to the point of being ready and disregard them. People often argue that there’s too much riding on the season, or it’s too much of a risk to blood these youngsters. All excuses for not giving potential a chance because we were fighting against relegation in the or aiming for promotion.
When someone has taken a risk, more often than not it has paid dividends and these types of academy players might just have given a little more for the club and shirt on the field compared to the mercenaries Sunderland seem to bring in on high wages.
The situation absolutely screams that this club is skint and the idea behind selling Bali is to try and free up money for two different signings who will know doubt have “promotion on their CV” - I’m bored of that narrative, like.
We need to give our youngsters a chance for once rather than bring players into the club who inevitably don’t commit, and we wonder why we don’t see the best of them on the field.
These kids might just be the key to open up one or two doors in the season and those doors might be the ones our more experienced players have not been able to open since the drop to League One.
Philip West says...
One of the most dispiriting aspects of Sunderland’s current status is the fact that seemingly any and all of our youth prospects is for sale. Instead of using our current third-tier status as an opportunity to provide pathways and opportunities for young players, we find ourselves watching them being sold for absolute pennies.
It is yet more damning evidence that the club is running on fumes, financially speaking, and that no area will be spared as we try to cut our cloth for a third successive season in League One.
I would keep Bali Mumba without hesitation. Granted, he’s very raw and still has a great deal to learn, but he has significant potential, and this has already been acknowledged by virtue of his England under-18 caps. He is a rare example of a Sunderland academy player in recent years who’s brought a genuine excitement factor and who you could easily see progressing up the ladder and ultimately making a big impact further down the line.
There is no guarantee that Mumba will fulfil his potential and go on to enjoy a fruitful and stellar career, but I would much rather keep him at Sunderland and see him allowed to develop further, as opposed to another club reaping the benefits of his talent. This is nothing against Norwich, his apparent destination.
I just wish that Sunderland was able to fend off bids for our academy-bred players, and could offer them terms that would be considered acceptable, rather than flogging them off and waving goodbye to players like Mumba seemingly without a second thought
Malcolm Dugdale says...
Bali’s perspective of this situation is key to this discussion for me.
Even though Josh Maja had offers on the table, losing his goals meant we were unable to secure our promotion. Subsequently, that makes his sale one of the worst football decisions of the past few years. We would not be in League One now if we had kept Maja. In addition, we wouldn’t be lumbered with a striker in Will Grigg that cost heaps but simply isn’t fitting in.
If Bali does not want to stay then we need to do one of two things: change his mind, or accept he is leaving. If the latter, what we then decide is when he is to leave, and we work around that assuming we do intend to play him regularly.
This is the key thing we didn’t manage well with the Maja exit. He was contracted to us, we can say no to players and their suitors if it is for the greater good of SAFC. If we’d kept him until the end of the season, the revenue increase from Championship football would have massively superseded the transfer fee for him. We were short sighted, commercially naive, and very poor at managing people.
If we have no real intent of giving Bali a solid run in the side and he wants to leave/has options, I say let him go and wish him well. As a young Three Lions prospect he cannot languish in League One and not get regular football, that will taint his reputation and CV and his England dream will die.
Use him or release him, but if we let him go, the 7-8 new improved players we are told we will bring in increases by at least one more player. Not having options in his position, even options with an element of risk, is naive and a strategically poor decision for the club.