Sunderland braced for huge summer revamp but keeping hold of these three players is key
Lamine Kone. Didier Ndong. Papy Djilobodji. Wahbi Khazri. Jack Rodwell.
Just some of the high earners Sunderland will be desperately looking to offload this summer, with the club on the verge of League One football and the inevitable cost-cutting involved.
Slashing the wage bill will be key as Sunderland look to rebuild.
Sunderland have been unable to shift Kone in the previous two windows with suitors not forthcoming but he will be available for a fraction of the £18million Everton were willing to pay two years ago.
Ndong, currently on loan at Watford, will be heading for the exit door as will the likes of Djilobodji and Khazri, both currently enjoying successful loans in France.
A speedy resolution to the Rodwell saga is also needed, with Rodwell the club’s top earner on a staggering £70,000 a week.
For Sunderland, this summer represents a real opportunity to hit the reboot button, albeit - barring a miracle - in the third tier for only the second time in the club’s long, proud history.
The seven loan players will depart, decisions still to be made on the four senior out of contract players; John O’Shea, Marc Wilson, Kazenga LuaLua and Billy Jones. You’d expect the vast majority to be departing Wearside.
The last three games has, however, highlighted three players the club must build around next season; Paddy McNair, George Honeyman and the transformed Lynden Gooch.
All three were shining lights in the entertaining 1-1 draw with Leeds United, following on from impressive performances over Easter against Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday.
The Sunderland fanbase are braced for a major rebuilding job but the Black Cats must do all they can to keep hold of that trio, along with Josh Maja and Joel Asoro.
McNair, Gooch and Honeyman could be forgiven for thinking they didn’t foresee their careers taking them to League One and there may well be interest from elsewhere. But keeping hold of them will be key.
They care, they work hard and there has been a sharp recent improvement in Gooch’s final ball and decision making, complimenting the work rate and endeavour of Honeyman and the athleticism of McNair, showing promise as a box-to-box midfielder.
Only a handful of players can emerge from this campaign with any credit and it is the club’s younger players.