Earlier last week, Nectarios Triantis arrived on Wearside to link up with his new teammates and staff ahead of the 23/24 pre-season on the back of international games for his native Australia. But what does the young Aussie bring to Sunderland?
At only 20 years of age, Sunderland have once again bolstered their ever-growing contingent of youth players with tremendous upside – this time in the form of Triantis; another piece of defensive cover to avoid the mistakes of last season when the injuries piled up on players, leaving us woefully short at the back.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Sunderland’s recruitment team had secured a move to bring the Aussie to Wearside on a permanent deal – and had fought off a number of other clubs for his signature, too.
Triantis has had only played one senior season in professional football, at the Central Coast Mariners, having previously played youth football for Western Sydney Wanderers. Triantis quickly adapted to the men’s game and impressed coaches and scouts alike, so let’s break down some of his attributes from last season and help to explain why the youngster shot up Sunderland’s summer shopping list as the transfer window opened.
Triantis has described himself as a ‘ball playing defender’, something which is becoming clear that the recruitment team have identified as one of the outstanding qualities they look for when recruiting defenders to Tony Mowbray’s squad.
So how does Triantis play and how does this fit into Mowbray’s free-flowing style of football?
Nectarios measures in at 6ft 2in, and has a very athletic frame that aids his jumping reach when entering aerial duels. He’s quick off the mark and can use his size to his advantage against burly forwards.
In his only season as a first-team player, he won an A-League winners medal, which could be important when considering the mentality required when gunning for promotion with Sunderland.
Last season Triantis featured in 22 league games, starting 18 of those, and registered a full 90 minutes in 13 – completing 1616 minutes in the process. For someone young and inexperienced, it’s impressive that he managed to establish himself as a regular in the back line of a title-winning defence – and he did so with great composure.
Having looked at some of his match footage, Triantis can compete physically, however he does look much more comfortable in the centre of the pitch. As a consequence, he often allows wingers and wide-forward players more time on the ball than may be necessary due to his natural defensive positioning. He’s very aggressive in the tackle and as various clips demonstrate, he has a good touch and can progress the ball out from the back when required.
Triantis has a unique ability on the pitch due to his aggressiveness, and he’s able to step out of a defensive line and make fast-paced decisions to tackle oncoming players – a useful asset for Sunderland, who thrive on counter-pressing and attacking swiftly on the transition.
Triantis also recently featured for Australia’s Under 23 side in their recent game before picking up a slight knock which kept him out of their second game – another sign of his growing standing in the game.
With Sunderland players back for pre-season training, I’m sure Nectarios will acclimatise himself well with his new teammates, none more so than fellow Aussie Bailey Wright, who will make him feel welcome within the group.
Sunderland will begin their pre-season friendlies with trips to South Shields and Gateshead, where I’m sure we’ll get a closer look at Triantis.
With Triantis, Danny Batth, Dan Ballard, Luke O’Nien, Aji Alese, Joe Anderson, Bailey Wright and fellow new signing Jenson Seelt providing plenty of options in central defence, and Trai Hume and Dennis Cirkin capable of playing in a three, this time around, we’ll hopefully avoid the selection challenges that ultimately cost us a shot at the playoff final last season.