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Amad is absolutely lighting up Sunderland’s attack - what a signing he’s been!

After a slow start following his summer arrival, the Manchester United loanee is now a key player for the Lads and is playing some truly sublime football, writes Phil West

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As a general rule of thumb I’ve always tried to make a point of not getting overly attached to Sunderland’s loan signings - and certainly during recent years.

Indeed, back in the summer of 2016, when Yann M’Vila was posting less-than-cryptic ‘come and get me’ messages on social media, I wasn’t particularly bothered whether we resigned him or not.

Likewise, had we managed to bring Nathan Broadhead back to Wearside during the summer I would’ve been delighted but in hindsight, we haven’t really lost out as a result of his decision to choose Wigan.

On the other hand, I did hype Jordan Jones up to ridiculous levels on the back of one good performance against Oxford, so my record in this area is patchy!

I have to admit that after his display against Blackburn on Monday, not to mention several eye-catching performances before that, I’m in danger of breaking my own rule regarding Amad. Make no mistake: this lad is a special player, and if we’re going to mount a playoff push this season he’ll be at the very heart of it.

We’ve probably got very little chance of keeping him on Wearside beyond this season but for now, let’s just enjoy a player who has added some stardust to what was already a potent attacking unit and has earned himself a place in the affections of the fans through the sheer brilliance of his play.

Against Rovers, in front of huge crowd and as part of a rejigged red and white forward line, the on-loan Manchester United attacker was absurdly good at times.

His ability to ghost past players at will, coupled with his array of flicks and tricks, made for one hell of a spectacle, and his link-up play with Patrick Roberts was very promising. He played with the sort of impudence that our fans have always embraced, and although he didn't score he was a thorn in the visitors’ side all afternoon.

Another example of his talent came against Birmingham, our final game before the World Cup break.

In the first half he somehow evaded five players in order to make a goal for Ellis Simms, before securing our victory with a spectacular curling strike late in the game. When he first moved to the UK, United paid £40 million to take him to Old Trafford - and on recent evidence, it’s easy to see why.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Amad’s signing has been nothing less than inspired, and it shows that when it comes to the use of the loan market that the club is switched on.

Similar to Jack Clarke, Kristjaan Speakman and company clearly saw something in Amad, and were subsequently able to secure his services. Opportunities for players such as him are plentiful at the club right now, and he’s grabbed the chance, and then some.

When he arrived back in the summer, after spending the 2021/2022 campaign on loan at Rangers, there were mixed opinions expressed about him on the socials.

From the red side of Manchester, there was substantial praise, hailing his technical ability and his potential, but from the Ibrox faithful, there was no small amount of scepticism, much of it centred around his attitude and supposed lack of work rate.

Whatever happened in Scotland is in the past, however.

He’s clearly settled on Wearside, is embracing his status as a fans’ favourite, and is performing consistently as a result. The influence of Tony Mowbray has undoubtedly played a role as well- he showed patience during the early weeks and months of the season, and that’s now being repaid.

The bigger picture is that the calibre of player we’re now able to attract, either on loan or permanently, is light years ahead of the market we were shopping in between 2017 and late 2020, and Amad embodies this transformation perfectly.

Whatever his future holds beyond next summer, and whatever he goes on to achieve in his football career, we should relish every second of him in the red and white stripes, and be thankful that we’ve been able to call on him, even if it’s only for a single season.

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