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Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg

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Fending off interest in our key players will be the next test for Sunderland’s new model

Rumoured interest in Sunderland players is a positive, because it shows that our recruitment is bringing talented and exciting footballers to Wearside, writes Paddy Hollis

Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

The transfer window rumour mill is in full swing, and what’s happening regarding Sunderland is to be expected.

Several of our key players have been the subject of top flight interest, with some concrete offers already being made.

Sunderland v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship - Play Off - Semi Final - First Leg - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Jack Clarke, Dan Ballard and Anthony Patterson have been linked with Premier League moves in recent weeks, and the attention focused on each of these players is justified because of the role they played during our impressive first season back in the Championship.

In a strange way, having top flight clubs coming in and potentially offering ten to fifteen million pounds for players we’ve developed is a compliment and an acknowledgement of the model.

It’s important that we don’t get dragged into the territory of being labelled a selling club, although to some extent, ninety percent of clubs in the top four leagues are ‘selling clubs’.

Sunderland v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Having big clubs recognise our talent is lovely, but what’s important is ensuring that we’re firm with any offers we receive. We don’t need to sell in order to stay afloat, and we can push clubs who approach our players for the big money we know that we’d deserve.

Burnley seem fairly keen on Clarke, although the better of their two offers was around twelve million and was swiftly rejected. They’ll doubtless try again, but we’ve made it clear that they’ll need to return with a much bigger offer, and I’m sure the club will be ready for whatever it may be.

It’s very important that we don’t get mugged off in the transfer market.

We’ve worked hard to build up this squad and it’s vital we don’t let it get picked apart for a penny less than its true value. What’s been a big help this summer is how quickly we’ve started on our incomings, and bringing in four new signings before pre season had even started is somewhat unheard of.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Of course there’s concern that these players are going to be snapped up, which may be the case, but from the outside looking in, they all look happy at Sunderland and are keen to stay for at least another year.

We don’t know the inner workings of the club, after all. Contract talks will be ongoing, and conversations about these rumours and offers will be taking place.

Other players may be given the old ‘they feel like a new signing’ treatment and one of those will definitely be Ross Stewart. The big man’s contract saga is still dragging on, despite him not kicking a ball for us since January.

My opinion is that at this point, perhaps the contract talks have been cooled at the club’s end in order to wait and see how Stewart gets on during pre season.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

We already know that he might not be fully fit for the opening match against Ipswich, but at least plans are in place to bolster our attacking options regardless of what happens with the Scot.

The ‘model’ has taken us from being a joke of a League One club to a Championship side brimming with quality. It’s left behind the days of signing over-the-hill plodders and players who couldn’t be bothered to even play for us.

It’s also given us one of the most memorable seasons many of us have ever experienced, and if some of our top players are tempted away by the promise of the Premier League, I think the current regime has earned enough trust from us to go out and replace anyone we might lose.


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