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Sunderland’s transfer policy: A bold step into the exciting unknown

Much like Captain Kirk and the USS Enterprise, Sunderland are boldly going where (until recently) we’d never gone before.

Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Sunderland have, for the last few transfer windows, taken a leap into the relative unknown when it comes to recruitment. Very rarely in the Speakman/ Harvey/ KLD era have we signed someone who the majority of us fans had heard of before.

This once would have been unheard of for our club, and one only needs to go back three or four years to remember us signing flops such as Kyle Lafferty and Will Grigg who we’d all heard of. With a visibly clear transfer policy in place, we’re moving in the right direction and the days of overspending on crap footballers who were familiar to fans are thankfully long gone.

This window is the best example so far of the transfer by data model in action on Wearside. We signed 11 players, 10 on a permanent basis. From these, you can have a strong case of saying that one Bradley Dack was known by most of our fan base. The best part about this summer is that it hasn’t come as a shock to any of us.

Adil Aouchiche Joins Sunderland Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Most of our starting line-up from the Southampton win were unknown entities when we signed them. The prime example perhaps being Trai Hume, who was slowly integrated into the first team following his move from Linfield. Very little was known of Hume when he signed in 2022 but now, just over 18 months later, he’s made the right back spot his own.

The same can be said for players who have come and gone under the model too. Ross Stewart was an unknown entity from Ross County, but two years later he left for over 10 times the amount we paid for him having scored 40 goals in 80 games. Buying players who are already established footballers is costly and, with our track record in the past, risky.

Clamours for an ‘established Championship striker’ were understandable, but the benchmark for this kind of player was set by Leeds signing Joel Piroe from Swansea for around £14 million. He scored at least 19 goals in the last two championship campaigns, and that’s what you need.

The division’s top scorer last year Chuba Akpom scored 28 goals in 38 games last season, and he moved to Ajax for £12.3 million. These two figures give a good indication of how much a ‘ready made’ Championship striker costs, and neither are amounts we will be spending anytime soon.

Timothée Pembélé Joins Sunderland Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

The players we are recruiting are low risk and high reward.

They are players who will need time to settle in and most of our new signings, particularly from deadline day, come with an abundance of potential. A touch of patience will be required, but crucially all of the four players we signed up at the end of the window have first team football under their belts this season.

We continue to take steps into the unknown with our transfer policy, but time and time again we prove that just because players are unknown, it doesn’t mean they aren’t any good.

We will continue to be bold and brave both on and off the pitch, and that to me is plenty of reason to be excited.


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