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Roker Roundtable: Can Jay Matete become a Sunderland regular for 2023/2024?

Matete has enjoyed a successful loan spell at Plymouth which culminated in Championship promotion, but does he still have a future at the Stadium of Light? We asked our writers for their thoughts

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

Joseph Tulip says…

The issue with a player such as Matete is a sign of Sunderland’s rapid and continuing progress.

There was a time not so long ago, after Ellis Short’s excessive spending had dried up, when we’d bring in journeymen and sometimes free agents who were often no better than what we already had.

Nowadays, not only are we investing in youth, we’re raising the bar with every transfer window.

Matete arrived as a welcome addition for our League One promotion push.

He added some much-needed bite and energy to the middle of the park but despite impressing in numerous outings in red and white, was considered perhaps not ready for the Championship last summer.

Like many other members of our League One promotion-winning side, I’d have given him a shot at Championship football and I saw him as a suitable replacement when Corry Evans was sidelined.

He wasn’t recalled, however, and since then, it’s been two from three with Edouard Michut and Pierre Ekwah competing for a place alongside Dan Neil.

Matete has been left behind and has despite his success with Plymouth, I can’t see the hierarchy at Sunderland bringing a player into the fold who they didn’t think was Championship ready twelve months ago.

Another key factor is our summer transfer plans. Who are we going to bring in and will Michut be a Sunderland player next season?

I hope I’m wrong, however, because I like Matete and I feel he could develop quickly as part of our young squad.

Huddersfield Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by John Early/Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

This is a quandary for me.

We saw how well Elliot Embleton did in helping both Blackpool and then Sunderland to get out of League One in the last two seasons.

However, since we embarked on our Championship campaign, he hasn’t featured as strongly as we may have hoped. That’s partly down to his season-ending injury but even if he were fit, it’s questionable whether he would get into the team.

We have some fabulous options in the squad right now, such has been the success of our season and the way our young charges have thrived when asked to step up.

Matete is very similar in that he’s done a great job helping Plymouth get promoted, but for me he may face the same challenge Embo would if fit right now.

We have some great talent in the middle and the interchange of starts between Pierre Ekwah, Dan Neil and Edouard Michut has been interesting to watch. Also once Corry Evans gets fit, he’ll add to our options.

We need to remember too that Luke O’Nien will be freed up to play in midfield by defenders coming back, so Matete has some real established fan favourites and emerging players to compete with.

I’d expect him to return for pre-season and the club may well loan him out again if they think he isn’t ready yet, but either way his loan has done what we wanted - given him plenty of playing time to grow and thrive, which he certainly has among the green army.

The theme here is that he’s given us a positive problem and that’s better than not having options. Whether he can force his way into the team is really down to him.


Martin Wanless says…

I’m not too sure why this is even a question to be honest. Maybe it’s a hangover from our old way of operating, when players had to make an immediate impact or they were out the door.

The way we work now is buying young players with potential and developing them, whether that be in our first team or elsewhere. Time and patience are the watchwords.

The pathway for Matete this season has been on loan, where he’s done well and earned a promotion. He was unfortunate that he was loaned out just before Corry Evans was injured, but that’s how the cards fell.

In a parallel universe, we could’ve been posing the same question about Trai Hume, had he not got a chance in the first team a week or two earlier - and how ridiculous does that now seem?

As a player, I really like Matete.

He’s got pace, ability and a dynamism we’ve missed in midfield. Yes, he’s raw, but that’s the name of the game now at Sunderland - look at how any number of players you can mention have developed with first team football this season. Matete hasn’t had that chance yet.

In a rare outing away at Sheffield Utd earlier in the season, he was superb, and showed his potential.

When he was signed fifteen months ago, the club gave him a four and a half year contract, and Krisrtjaan Speakman said:

Jay is a dynamic and versatile midfielder and we are delighted to welcome him to Sunderland AFC.

He is a highly sought-after talent and throughout the season he has attracted admirers from the Premier League and the Championship, which not only highlights the level of his performances but also his outstanding potential.

We believe that we have the optimal environment in place to maximise his ability and we look forward to supporting him in his development, as he takes the next step in his career.

He’s a player the club believes has huge potential, and who knows - next season he could force his way into our team or go out on loan again; he’s just turned twenty two and the club’s view is a long term one.

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