The last few days have seemingly been building up to the departure of currently injured striker Ross Stewart, and it seems as though his next stop will be Southampton.
If the same pattern of speculation was happening this time twelve months ago, the fans would be fearing the worst, but it didn’t. It’s happening here and now and his seemingly imminent exit doesn’t feel all that bad.
Stewart has done a lot for this club.
He helped to fire us to promotion from League One and he scored plenty of important goals during his limited appearances in the Championship last season. He’ll surely go down as one of the unluckiest strikers we’ve had in recent years, and two serious injuries suffered in one season has hampered his progression no end.
The ‘will he or won’t he?’ situation surrounding Stewart’s new contract at Sunderland has been a soap opera of epic proportions. It’s dragged on for far too long and it’s a relief that it’s hopefully coming to an end, although not in the way we would’ve wanted.
Had Stewart signed a new contract on Wearside, it would’ve been fantastic.
He’s given us plenty of great memories and in an improving team, he would’ve been a perfect asset.
However, no player is bigger than the club and moving forward, situations like this will become more frequent.
The potential sale of Stewart is the first real test of our new way of working, and anything upwards of £10 million for a striker who’d suffered one of the worst injuries in football is good business in theory, but it’ll only be deemed as such if we invest the money wisely.
This is where the ticking clock of the transfer window comes into play, and Sunderland have made it clear that Stewart will only leave once a replacement is in place.
We can twist and turn all we like, and I’m sure he’ll be a top signing, but Nazariy Rusyn is not that replacement. If the club believes that a centre forward in the traditional sense (such as Stewart) is the man they’re waiting for, it can be anticipated they have their fingers in a few pies across Europe.
We’re holding firm when it comes to Stewart, as we’ve done with other potential outgoings.
We fended off four separate approaches from Burnley for Jack Clarke, although in fairness, the low ball nature of the offers probably made this easier than the club may have thought.
The remaining hours of the window are set to be frantic and tense, and I strongly believe it’s going to be a crazy one on Wearside.
We need additions, primarily a striker, a winger and a central midfielder, and the recruitment team’s office at the Stadium of Light or the Academy of Light will doubtless resemble a scene that’s not too dissimilar to ‘Wall Street’.
If Stewart isn’t a Sunderland player by the time the window slams shut at 11pm tonight, then we’ll have received a good fee for a player of his age, injury record and calibre.
In addition to this, we want to hope that whatever this amount may be has helped to fill the gaps left in our squad, because almost all the pieces of a very good squad are there.
A few more and we’ll look even better, but time is of the essence.