Analysis: Chris Young asseses the futures of Sunderland’s players

Vito Mannone
Vito Mannone
0
Have your say

After a third successive near-brush with relegation, there will be changes to the Sunderland squad this summer with up to half a dozen new signings planned by Dick Advocaat.

But what does the future hold for those already on the books?

Mannone’s confidence never recovered from the 8-0 rout at Southampton.

In the first of a two-part feature, Sunderland reporter CHRIS YOUNG looks at what next season potentially holds for those on the club’s books.

GOALKEEPERS

Costel Pantilimon

Had Sunderland been relegated, Pantilimon would have been one of the prize assets that the club faced a battle to keep after the Romanian was undoubtedly the pick of last season’s signings.

Even after securing Premier League survival, Sunderland will surely receive an enquiry or two from interested parties for Pantilimon, who has proved his Premier League credentials after the understudy role at Manchester City.

But Sunderland are resolutely determined to keep Pantilimon at the club as one of the players the side will be built around next season.

Vito Mannone

It’s been a dramatic frall from grace for Mannone after he was crowned Sunderland’s Player of the Season just 12 months ago, following a debut season at the Stadium of Light when he became a firm fan favourite on the terraces.

Mannone’s confidence never recovered from the 8-0 rout at Southampton, with errors in the subsequent defeat to Arsenal prompting Gus Poyet to install Costel Pantilimon, who grasped the opportunity emphatically.

Sunderland have already received enquiries over Mannone’s availability this summer and he is likely to depart, with the Italian himself keen to play regular first-team football.

Jordan Pickford

A 34-game loan spell at League One club Bradford has boosted the extent of Pickford’s competitive appearance and the 21-year-old is earmarked to provide back-up to Pantilimon if Mannone departs.

Pickford is very highly-rated by Sunderland’s coaching staff and the club are determined that there is a pathway to fulfil his potential at the Stadium of Light.

Becoming the number two to Pantilimon is the next step for him now, having turned 21 and enjoyed several spells out on loan further down the football pyramid.

DEFENDERS

John O’Shea

Despite turning 34 and enduring a couple of stinkers during the second half of the season, O’Shea has remained Sunderland’s first-choice centre-half, and certainly the most consistent over the course of the campaign.

But with two new central defenders on the shopping list for this summer, perhaps the captain won’t be quite so predominantly used next season.

O’Shea will remain a key figure for the Black Cats after penning a two-year contract extension, but perhaps not to the same as last season when he started all-bar-one of Sunderland’s games.

Wes Brown

When Brown helped Sunderland to a hugely meaningful win at Everton in his final game of the season, it looked like it could be the last contribution of his Sunderland career.

But one of those familiar occasions where Brown was still able to show his class, may have been decisive in persuading Dick Advocaat that the ex-England international could continue to play a part for the Black Cats.

Rather than being released, Brown is now expected to agree a fresh one-year contract this week, which is likely to see out his professional career.

Billy Jones

After being plagued by hamstring injuries since arriving at Sunderland, Jones was finally able to demonstrate his worth under Dick Advocaat as a consistent, attack-minded right-back.

Jones’s fitness issues will continue to prompt question marks over how much he can be relied upon, particularly as Sunderland don’t boast any great strength in depth at full-back.

But Dick Advocaat clearly rates Jones’ contribution and with other areas of the side far bigger priorities this summer, the ex-West Brom man will hope to make the right-back spot his own in the 2015-16 season.

Anthony Reveillere

Perhaps there were a few signs of age from Reveillere during the final days of Poyet’s reign, but the ex-France international still proved to be a bargain Bosman at a time when Sunderland were desperate for any defenders.

It looked like that would be enough to earn Reveillere another year at the Stadium of Light as cover for Jones and van Aanholt, with terms all-but-agreed.

But with Advocaat keen to deploy attack-minded full-backs, there has been a change of heart and he will now be freed.

Patrick van Aanholt

Defensively, van Aanholt still needs to make plenty of improvement, with his positioning consistently proving to be erratic throughout his first season of regular Premier League football.

But in the brand of football Advocaat wants to play, his fellow Dutchman offers so much pace going forwards that he will be allowed to continue his development. At 24, van Aanholt will get better and while he is nowhere near as defensively sound as left-back predecessor Marcos Alonso, he’s not been a bad investment at just £1.5m.

Santiago Vergini

For much of the season, there was a Marmite element to Vergini, with some supporters enjoying those mazy runs out of defence and others cringing at the sight.

Poyet kept Vergini in the fold as a virtual ever-present, yet Advocaat was not convinced – dropping him after the collapse against Crystal Palace and then opting not to call upon him again.

Sunderland are duty-bound to sign Vergini for around £2m under the terms of his loan contract, but don’t rule out the prospect of the Black Cats looking for other suitors willing to buy them out of the permanent clause.

Sebastian Coates

The on-loan Liverpool centre-half was THE revelation under Advocaat; transforming a season-long stint that had looked to be an injury-plagued waste of funds.

It has prompted a 180 degree turn on Sunderland’s view of signing him permanently, with the Black Cats now keen to push ahead with a move to re-sign Coates, who is currently with the Uruguay squad ahead of the Copa America.

With only a year on his contract at Anfield remaining, Liverpool are unlikely to stand in Coates’ way, albeit the 24-year-old would still need to agree to a wage drop.

Tom Beadling

One of the highest-rated youngsters at the club, Beadling has a chance of flirting on the fringes of the first-team picture next season.

The 19-year-old would perhaps benefit from a spell out on loan, but Sunderland’s coaching staff have been impressed by his performances for the Under-21s and the centre-half is earmarked as one who can genuinely come through the ranks.

Tommy Robson

Poyet considered turning to the left-back at the turn of the year when Sunderland were struggling to field even one full-back, but the then head coach ultimately decided against it.

By necessity, Robson has bulked up a lot over recent months and seems to have regained some confidence, but he would benefit from a loan move away.

Valentin Roberge

Sunderland are desperate to offload the Roberto De Fanti flop signing on a permanent basis after he spent last season on loan at French side Stade de Reims.

Roberge only has a year left on his deal, but it’s a lucrative contract and the likelihood is that Sunderland will have to subsidise another loan departure.