Sunderland’s signing of Trai Hume is an intriguing one. The young full-back has been earning rave reviews for his performances in the Irish League with Linfield FC, and appears to have all the attributes to become a big player for the club.
It also appears that he did not cost an awful lot of money.
The Irish leagues, The League of Ireland and the NIFL Premiership are competitions that teams like Sunderland should be attempting to exploit more often. There are many players that come from these leagues to have successful careers in England and Scotland and it has always baffled me as to why Sunderland have not dipped into this market on a more frequent basis.
Granted in the past, especially under Roy Keane, some of the signings were a mixed bag, but Sunderland have also had some significant success from buying players on the cheap in the Irish leagues. Remember David Meyler, Daryl Murphy and James McClean?
The combined outlay of these three players was less than a million pounds. You can compare the successes of those three players to some of the big-money signings we have bought in the recent past.
The Republic of Ireland team is essentially now made up of bright young players who are plying their trade in the EFL Championship and League One. These players have come over to England after successful spells in their domestic leagues, and many have become some of the brightest sparks in their respective teams too.
Players such as Portsmouth’s Ronan Curtis and Gavin Bazunu, Rotherham’s Chiedoze Ogbene and Kieran Sadlier and Oxford’s Mark Sykes are all examples of players who have moved to the UK for small transfer fees and earned international recognition.
Granted, this doesn’t suggest much for the international side, but the point stands that the majority of the aforementioned players would certainly improve the Sunderland team.
The question must be posed. Why are these clubs getting these players ahead of us?
Before the arrival of Kyril Louis Dreyfus, Sunderland’s scouting network was completely shambolic. It was a scattergun approach. It lacked direction and sort of plan.
There did not appear to be a strategy for buying players. This ultimately led to signing players who neither were good enough nor actually wanted to be here. The money some of them were on completely diluted any sort of hunger or application for the jersey.
The mind still boggles as to how the same mistake appeared to be consistently made.
One can only hope that things will change, and it appears that change has started. Sunderland’s approach to buying players at present is completely different from what’s gone before – the buy small-sell big approach is one to admire. It ensures that Sunderland will invest in their scouting team and seek to buy the best young talent across the continent and possibly further afield.
Described by his new manager as having, ‘amazing attributes’, Trai Hume could potentially be one of these diamonds in the rough. Lee Johnson has suggested that the Irishman will need time to bed in.
Based on the Hume signing, it would not surprise me if Sunderland spend more time looking at the Irish leagues for talent. Thanks to some of the improved work in the underage academies North and South of the border, it would be wise for the club to continue to monitor the progress of some of the players coming through.
In recent days, Blackburn Rovers and Celtic have signed some of the best young players in the league for a pittance. There are many more like them. Sunderland could do worse than take a look at players such as Dawson Devoy and Georgie Kelly at Bohemians as well as Shamrock Rovers attacker Danny Mandriou.
These players have proven themselves capable on the European stage as well as the domestic league this summer – specifically Kelly and Irish-u21 cap Devoy, who have been earning rave reviews.
Reflecting on the Trai Hume signing, in an era where value for money for players has become extremely difficult, the club could be journeying down the right path for talent.