What business has been done so far?
It’s been a pretty quiet January for Sunderland — but we’re not unique in that, as it seems just about every club up and down the pyramid have been waiting as long as they possibly can before making moves in the transfer window.
As it stands, the only player we’ve signed is Norwegian defender Leo Hjelde, a £2m buy from fellow Championship side Leeds United on Monday. He’s a 6ft2 left sided defender who can play on the left of a three, at left back or as a wing back — a position he played frequently when out on loan at Rotherham United last season.
Hjelde has signed a four-and-a-half-year deal and will wear the number 33 shirt, which when ah wur a lad was the shirt of my hero, Julio Arca. So, no pressure, Leo...
In terms of outgoings, Jewison Bennette joined Greek Super League side Aris Thessaloniki on loan until the end of the season - but fear not Jewi fans, as there’s no obligation to buy at the end, with Michael Beale already stating that the Costa Rica international will be back on Wearside for pre-season. Jack Diamond has also left, linking up with League One strugglers Carlisle United, whilst there have been a couple of departures from the youth side — Kelechi Chibueze heading to Consett for a month and Harry Gardiner spending the same length of time in the National League North with Blyth Spartans.
So, what incomings can we expect, and what do we need?
It seems a matter of time before the official announcement of the signing of Romaine Mundle from Standard Liege appears — he was on Wearside yesterday to complete his medical and is expected to sign a three-and-a-half-year deal for a fee, depending what you believe, of around £1.5m-£2m with no future sell on clauses.
Mundle is a product of the Spurs youth system and turned down a new five year deal with them in the summer in favour of heading abroad in search of regular first team football, but his move to Belgium hasn’t quite worked out and his current side are in a spot of bother financially, which seems to have worked to our advantage.
That aside, we still probably could do with another centre forward and a central midfielder.
There have been links to Bournemouth striker Kieffer Moore, but yesterday it was reported that both Sunderland and Ipswich are a way away from what The Cherries want in terms of financial contributions, so it’ll be interesting to see if we budge. And despite the loan signing yesterday of Famara Diedhiou, Cardiff are still in the market for another striker and could well be the preferred destination for the Wales international.
In terms of central midfielders, there haven’t been any real strong links other than Yann M’Vila over the last few weeks, but speculation about his glorious return to Wearside have cooled and I can’t help but wonder that he’s maybe a plan B for after the window if things don’t work out. The way in which Mundle appeared out of nowhere makes me think we probably have several irons in the fire that we haven’t even heard on the rumor mill yet, so let’s see how things go there. An experienced head in the middle would be preferred, but it wouldn’t be a total disaster if we didn’t find one, and the lack of noise in the media leads me to think that if we sign anyone it might actually be another youngster.
Elsewhere, the links to Amad Diallo won’t go away and I think that even if there’s a tiny chance of it happening right at the end of the day we’ll remain interested, but reports from Fabrizio Romano on Tuesday seemed to indicate that he’s still wanted at Manchester United and that they have plans for him between now and the end of the season.
And what about outgoings?
Alex Pritchard completed his Birmingham medical on Wednesday afternoon and the announcement of his departure is a mere formality, with the ex-Huddersfield man set to join back up with his old gaffer Tony Mowbray at St Andrews. There hasn’t been anything concrete reported in terms of a fee, but the rumour earlier in the week was that it was around £100,000.
Other than that I can only imagine we’ll see some players leave on loan. For me, Ellis Taylor needs to go and play first team football somewhere as his future simply isn’t with us here at Sunderland. He’s been a good player for the U21s this term but at this stage of his career could really use a spell away from the club playing men’s football somewhere down the pyramid, perhaps in League Two or the National League.
Hemir is another who would probably benefit from playing games elsewhere and I imagine the sanctioning of any potential loan deal for him will depend heavily on our ability to sign a striker. Likewise, Jay Matete has struggled for fitness in the first half of the season and hasn’t been anywhere near the first team picture as a result, so allowing him to leave and play a league down likely depends on whether or not we sign a midfielder.
There were some tenuous links to Nectar Triantis leaving on loan and I can see that happening as we are pretty well stocked at centre half, but I’d be absolutely fine with him staying if that’s what they decide is best.
Predictions, then... where will we be at 11pm?
My gut feeling is that the club aren’t as bothered as we maybe are about the striker situation, and that if Kieffer Moore isn’t coming here that they’ll be happy to crack on with what they’ve got. I say this as I’m looking around at the other Championship clubs that need strikers and who has been signed so far, and it’s clear there’s just a massive lack of quality, available goalscorers this January and that we won’t just sign anyone if it doesn’t feel like it makes sense. I hope I’m wrong, and I hope that we manage to get Moore over the line as he’s so different to what we already have an would immediately improve us. The worry is that Ipswich and Cardiff may seem like more attractive options to him, but if they won’t pay what Bournemouth want then that should give us a clear run at signing him.
Other than that I think we might be quiet, and that if anyone else leaves it’s likely to be Ellis Taylor and Jay Matete going out the door.
The deadline day drama hasn’t really been present much during the Speakman era, but you never know, that could all change today!
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