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Strikers: The forbidden fruit of the January window

They are the player most teams want, but many - including Sunderland - struggle to land a striker who’s ready to step straight in and make a difference.

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The January transfer market is trudging by, and Sunderland are approaching three weeks with absolutely no ins or outs. This is a far quieter window than we’ve become accustomed to, at probably the worst time in terms of wanting to have an impact.

Yet again, Sunderland are in a transfer window and looking for a striker. The only problem is, it feels like every man and his dog are on the lookout too. The January window is very much one for the sellers, and if you are looking to buy or loan, clubs will make you sweat as much as possible.

We have four strikers on our books, with one goal between them. That would sound far worse without context, this being that we’ve barely seen any of them. We’ve not seen Hemir since a 15-minute cameo at the end of the 2-1 home defeat to Huddersfield Town back in November, which is a mystery in itself.

Sunderland v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

On the back of this, the club have said that they are on the lookout for another striker, ideally someone ready to hit the ground running, with Kieffer Moore links being logical. This would be far more straightforward if he wasn’t the sort of player half of the Championship would also have a keen eye on.

Wanting a striker and getting a striker are two concepts that are opposites to each other. January is a tough time to recruit, with interest in season-changing players being swatted away by clubs. Ideally, this is what we will do to any club that comes sniffing around Jack Clarke and Dan Neil.

Good strikers are rarely bought in the January window, and the club’s keenness to recruit more forwards is a sign that they don’t think the three signed permanently in the summer are good enough full-stop, or that they need to develop more. In all honesty, if we finished 8-12th this season and give minutes to these strikers I would be more than happy.

Stoke City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jess Hornby/Getty Images

I’ve said it before and I’ll likely bang this particular drum again soon, finishing in the top six last season skewed our expectations and now a solid top-half finish with a chance to develop our young players is a scenario many may turn their nose up at.

What can’t go unnoticed is that we arguably need a centre midfielder and a left-back more urgently than strikers. With news that Aji Alese has picked up a knock, the club is left with no fit left-backs. A logical change to the line-up would be Trai Hume to left back and Timothée Pembélé to right back, but let’s be honest SAFC hasn’t made many logical decisions recently.

We know only too well that signing a decent striker is tough. Where the club sits now in January 2024 is a side with missing pieces, but still a good core of players who have natural talent. The quest for a striker when we already have four may look odd to anyone on the outside, but it’s clear what Sunderland want. Whether they get what they want remains to be seen, but we’ll know in just a couple of weeks.


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