It’s no secret that. in the coming weeks and months, Sunderland’s recruitment is set to undergo one of its biggest changes to date. With data-driven recruitment, most if not all signings may have a sense of being out of the box and surprisingly, the UK harbours more than enough youthful talent.
First up is Rabbi Matondo. A former Manchester City prodigy, the Citizens weren’t shy in paying the £500,000 compensation to Cardiff to acquire his signature. A fairly successful youth career saw Matondo soon make a claim to be playing first-team football, a decision which ultimately took him to Schalke.
His time at Schalke has been a difficult one with most of his appearances coming from the bench as the German side continue to struggle in the Bundesliga – and Matondo is now on loan at Stoke. There are murmurings that Matondo will be made available for loan again next season making Rabbi an acquirable target. Blessed with ridiculous pace and a low centre of gravity, Matondo represents something our forward play has been severely lacking for three seasons.
Successful loans in League One for his Wales u21 teammates may also influence Matondo’s decision-making process, which would stand Sunderland in good stead. The only worry is Matondos questionable goal scoring record in senior football, which would have to dramatically improve to make this a worthwhile signing, however, a drop in level may provide the perfect opportunity and springboard for the unconventional Welsh forward.
19-year-old Devoy is seemingly the latest in a long line of players to graduate through Bohemians academy and possibly one of the most exciting to date.
Primarily plying his trade in the Number 10 role – somewhere Sunderland are severely lacking – Devoy could be the spark to light the fire. Lauded for his footballing brain and eye for a pass, Devoy is leaving a lasting impression both at Bohs and Ireland as his career rapidly develops. Devoy is composed on the ball with a beautiful range of passing.
Devon may not come cheap as Bohemians will want to cash in as much as possible on their future star, and we would have to move quickly to get him, with a host of English clubs carefully monitoring the young starlet’s progress over in Dublin.
Linfield have a track record of producing strikers in recent days under the guidance of former Sunderland striker David Healy and Lavery could well be the pick of the bunch so far. Small, agile, quick and with two good feet, there’s little surprise to see the former Everton youth player find his feet in Belfast.
With an eye for the sublime, Lavery possesses the boldness that only youth can harness, not being afraid to try his luck from distance with either foot – a trait that has seen him amass 22 goals and 6 assists in 26 league games this season as Linfield completed the league and cup double.
Obvious questions will arise in terms of the level at which he currently operates, but with more and more teams in Northern Ireland achieving professional status and most of their current international set-up playing their formative years at that level, there seems little reason not to take a chance on the promising Northern Irish international, who wouldn’t come at a ridiculous cost.
Lavery again offers something entirely different to what we currently have and having a striker who can score an array of goals is something we’ve been crying out for after successive seasons of one-dimensional forwards.
Staying in Northern Ireland (via Manchester) Ethan Galbraith is another off the conveyor belt of young Northern Irish talent, it’s little wonder why top Premier League clubs are scouting Ulster for its finest talent.
Seen as a hybrid of Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick, Galbraith is as comfortable on the ball as it gets. Happily operating from deep or further forward, few players of his age possess such a range of passing.
Even at this early stage, Galbraith seems to have everything he needs to become a regular United player in years to come.
For now, though, he needs development opportunities after penning a three-year deal with the Red Devils and Sunderland could provide the classy midfielder with just that. Comfortable, classy and with that canny ability to pop up with a goal just when needed, it’s no surprise that Galbraith is one of United’s prized youth possessions.
With a history between the clubs in terms of player development and our desperate need for some quality midfielders, this could be a move that would benefit everyone greatly.