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Mumba’s move to Norwich highlights Sunderland’s issues with youth development

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Bali Mumba completed a move to Norwich yesterday citing the Canaries’ ability to develop young talent as a prime reason for his move to East Anglia. Sunderland, simply must do better.

Hartlepool United v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Bali Mumba’s move to Norwich City was confirmed yesterday for an undisclosed fee, though the Chronicle noted that, “the deal is worth an initital [sic] £350,000 but could rise to more than £750,000 if various add-ons are triggered.”

Mumba joins a growing list of exciting young talent sold to clubs higher up the food chain as Sunderland head into another big summer rebuild with no chairman, no recruitment team, a skeletal staff and lingering doubts regarding the ownership situation.

Fans are largely disappointed with the deal due to the fact that the club has failed to adequately cultivate Mumba’s obvious talent. Instead, that task will now be afforded to Norwich, whose ability to develop young players into first team regulars is something Sunderland would do well to emulate.

When asked about signing Bali Mumba, Norwich manager, Daniel Farke, was quick to sing the England youth player’s praises:

We’re really happy we’ve been able to sign Bali. He’s an exciting young talent.

It’s important not to put too much pressure on his shoulders, but he’s the type of full-back we want, driving forward and being brave, but also aggressive against the ball and with good endurance.

He’s a great lad and full of potential. We’ll give him time to improve and we think we’ve got a really exciting talent.

It will be interesting to see Mumba develop in the Championship with the East Anglian club - especially as Farke has identified Mumba as an attacking full back.

Questions must be asked by Sunderland fans, however, as to why such a clearly talented player simply wasn’t afforded a chance in Sunderland’s first team.

Phil Smith of the Sunderland Echo noted yesterday that:

As it stands, Mumba’s pathway to the first-team seems non-existent.

The youngster has not featured once during Parkinson’s tenure and while the Black Cats boss intends to take a close look at Jack Diamond in the pre-season period, Mumba does not seem to suit his preferred style and there has been little prospect of senior action.

Sunderland simply must to do better.

In his initial interview with his new club, Mumba was quick to point out why he was eager to complete the move south:

I’ve watched Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis a lot. I’ve seen how they’ve progressed through the system and have continued to develop and that’s exactly what I’m hoping to replicate.

Simply put: Mumba sees a chance to boost his playing time and development with Norwich in the Championship instead of Sunderland in League One, and who can blame him?

Max Aarons (20) and Jamal Lewis (22) were both poached as youngsters from Luton and have since completed almost 170 games between them for Norwich since 2017. Both have been linked with big moves recently, with Bayern Munich allegedly set to offer over £18 million for Aarons, while both Tottenham and Liverpool are reportedly interested in Lewis.

Furthermore, Todd Cantwell (22) has accrued over 60 games for the Canaries in the last two seasons and has attracted interest from both Manchester United and Liverpool recently, too.

These success stories will have given Mumba, who managed 4 appearances in two seasons at League One level with Sunderland, genuine hope that he can develop into a top pro with Norwich because they are a club willing to give young talent a chance to flourish.

Mumba’s interview with Norwich after his arrival suggests that the youngster himself knows that his chances with Sunderland were limited, and that was a large part in his decision to move on from Sunderland:

The history of the club is very good, as well as the way it’s run and the way it produces young players is very good for such a young player like me, to get in that pathway and hopefully be promoted to the first-team and look to start my career.

This summer Sunderland are again tasked with rebuilding the playing squad after a disappointing second season stuck in the third tier of English football, where the club finished in its lowest ever position.

With the EFL said to be keen on introducing a wage cap believed to be close to £2.5 million per season in League One, Sunderland will have to alter their approach to recruitment. Squad size limitations will also be problematic, but the news that academy graduates will be exempt from said limitations could well encourage the club to look at the talent currently within the club and give these players a chance to shine.

Mumba’s move to Norwich should act as a wake-up call for Sunderland, whose recruitment and player development simply has to improve.