On the 31st August 2022, the announcement of Edouard Michut’s signing was met with surprise, optimism and intrigue by many Sunderland fans.
Joining the club on loan from Paris Saint-Germain with an option to make the move permanent at the end of the season, Michut had made eight first team appearances for the Parisians in their title-winning season of 2021/2022, becoming the youngest player to register an assist for the first team since Kylian Mbappe.
He was clearly highly regarded at the Parc des Princes, so how would he do at Sunderland?
Michut’s first appearance came in an under-21 game against Middlesbrough, during which he was sent off for two bookable offences. However, he also showed glimpses of the talent which once made him of France’s hottest prospects and he subsequently played a few more age-group games in order to gain match sharpness.
After a spell away from the first team, Michut was regularly included in match day squads and made numerous appearances off the bench.
Although neat and tidy on the ball, the questions were hanging over him; namely, how would he cope with the physicality of the Championship? Then, on the 29th December, he made his first start.
That night, he starred alongside Dan Neil in a 4-1 win away at Wigan. We dominated the game and the combination of Michut and Neil completely outclassed their opponents.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, as Corry Evans was stretchered off against Middlesbrough. On came Michut in his place and it was on that day that he really announced himself as a Sunderland player.
Playing alongside Neil once again, they dictated the flow of the match and kept the ball magnificently against a fellow promotion rival. Since then, the young Frenchman has been a mainstay in Tony Mowbray’s team and is getting better with each passing week.
One of Michut’s best attributes is undoubtedly his ability to kickstart our attacks.
He’s superb at receiving the ball under pressure before moving into space and releasing it to our attacking players, which can then put teams under pressure.
What also impresses me is he that puts in the hard yards and covers every blade of grass whenever the opposition has the ball. He also likes a tackle, which shows he enjoys getting stuck in.
Looking ahead, I’d like to see him add goals to his game but that will come with time and coaching.
One man who has to take some of the plaudits for Michut’s improvement is Mowbray himself.
His understanding of when to give young players opportunities and when to take them out of the firing line gives them a chance to showcase their ability to the full.
Off the field, many see Mowbray as a father figure and with so many young players at the club, it’s important to have a head coach who has experience of both the North East and the English game, in order to help settle these lads settle in quickly.
There’s rumoured to be an option to buy Michut at the end of the season for £5 million, and if he continues to progress and keeps playing well, I’d have no hesitation in paying that price for him.
The lad has all the attributes to become an exceptional midfielder. He fits into our philosophy and style of play and most importantly, he’s at a club where he’ll get plenty of game time and the chance to show his talent on a big stage.