During the summer transfer window, it was clear that Sunderland’s transfer policy and ambition to lower the average age of the squad is still in full flow with the oldest player brought in, Alex Bass, who is only 24, which is still relatively young for a goalkeeper.
Within the wave of incoming talent were four younger players who are all 20 years old or younger and all came from the foreign market, which is excellent news for all Sunderland fans as we are no longer scraping the bottom of the EFL barrel and are using our scouting network to its fullest.
So, who are these young guns that Kristjaan Speakman and Sunderland’s recruitment team secured from across the globe?
Position: Right Winger
Nationality: Cote d’Ivoire
Although Diallo hails from the Ivory Coast, he spent the majority of his footballing youth in Italy, originally starting with Boca Barco before moving to Atalanta in 2015, where he worked his way through the youth set-up before finally breaking through to the first team in October 2019, scoring against Udinese on his debut.
A year later, in October 2020, Manchester United agreed to sign the winger in the upcoming January transfer window for a reported £21 Million rising to £42 Million. Serious money.
After signing for The Red Devils, Diallo had found his appearances limited with only 3 Premier League and a handful of cup appearances, this lack of football opened up Diallo’s first loan move to Rangers, where opinions differ on how successful his spell was in Scotland.
Diallo has been described as a highly technical player with the vision to read the game, and with the ability to use both feet enables him to run either channel.
Sunderland secured a major talent in Diallo where the uncapped potential could prove him to be a real handful in the Championship, we have already seen glimpses of this during the Middlesborough game on Monday.
Position: Attacking Midfielder
When Twitter journo extraordinaire Fabrizio Romano linked us with an unknown french midfielder from PSG it took a lot of Sunderland fans by surprise; especially as few knew anything about the player, myself included. It didn't make it any less exciting though, being linked to a wonderkid from a club like PSG is a far cry from bygone transfer eras, especially as we have clauses in the contracts to make the move permanent.
Michut’s career includes stints at FC Le Chesnay 78 and Versailles before joining the PSG academy in July 2016, Edouard stayed in the reserves for four years before signing his first professional deal in July 2020.
Michut, or “The New Verratti” as he has been dubbed by others, has been limited to only eight appearances for PSG, with the majority coming in the 21/22 season which subsequently earned him a Ligue 1 champion medal.
Although eight appearances may seem like a low number, when you consider the talent that Michut has been training with, it becomes irrelevant. Still, if I was Michut, I'd take Dan Neil over Julian Draxler any day.
We are yet to see Michut in action, but Tony Mowbray revealed that he had a slight strain as he adjusts to the levels required of Sunderland players, which can only mean the lad is putting in the graft required.
Position: Defensive Midfield
The Le Havre academy is nothing to mess with and boasts alumni such as Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet, Steve Mandanda, and El-Hadji Ba if any Sunderland fans wanted an unwelcome blast from Roberto De Fanti’s reign as Director of Football.
Abdoullah Ba rose through the ranks of Le Havre’s academies before becoming one of the youngest players to sign professionally for the club, going on to make ten appearances for Les Ciel et Marine (The Sky and Navy), scoring his first professional goal against Troyes in the 20/21 season.
Little is known about Ba but given that he’s signed a 5 year deal on Wearside can only mean the club see potential in the midfielder.
Position: Left Winger
Nationality: Costa Rican
Guaranteed world beater and Costa Rican wonder kid Jewison Benette caused a Twitter storm, when we were first linked by journalist Kevin Jimenez, as it was the first glimpse into the globe-trotting nature of our new scouting system.
Bennette signed for The Lads from Herediano, who play in Liga Promerica, on a four-year deal but is yet to feature for the first team yet, his father, Jewison Bennette Snr, ‘Jewi’ is progressing well and is liked by new manager Tony Mowbray, as reported by Costa Rican outlet La Teja.
Having already played four times in Liga Promerica this season, scoring two and assisting once, it may only be a matter of time until we see Bennette, especially with Stewart out for a spell.
Kristjaan Speakman’s reign as Director of Football has received mixed reviews, especially whilst replacing Lee Johnson as Head Coach, yet Speakman has shown that time and again he is making the correct decisions for the club whilst making it a stable and sustainable model for Sunderland to launch from over the coming seasons.
By signing younger players we are beginning to look to the future by proactively acquiring players that will progress with time rather than reactively signing older players to fill the gaps.