Josh Maja doesn't have to look far for Sunderland guidance
Such has been the success of Sunderland's academy in recent years that several of their graduates have been offered opportunities to leave the Stadium of Light, with Maja the latest to be linked away after talk of interest from Bristol City. As Maja continues discussions over a new contract, he may cast an eye on some of his predecessors who have enjoyed varying levels of success since leaving the Stadium of Light. Here, we take a look at nine of the Black Cats' academy products whose journeys after leaving Wearside could offer the striker some guidance:
After progressing through Sunderland's academy, Colback became a first-team regular at the Stadium of Light before swapping Wearside for Tyneside, joining Newcastle United in 2014. His move didn't quite work out as planned, though, with the midfielder currently on loan at Nottingham Forest having found first team opportunities elusive.
On the flip side, former Sunderland skipper and academy graduate Henderson has flourished since leaving the Black Cats, becoming a first team regular at Liverpool and a key player for England.
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The striker was a rare shining light for Sunderland last season after joining the club's academy from his native Sweden. But Asoro has struggled for game time since joining Swansea in the summer, and is a good example of why Maja may not want to move just yet.
Another success story is that of Pickford, who has become Everton and England's number one since leaving Sunderland. The Washington-born stopper is a fine example of a player who has pushed on since leaving the Black Cats - and could Maja be tempted to follow his lead?
The attacking midfielder turned down a new deal at Sunderland to join Roy Keane's Ipswich back in 2010. Hourihane failed to make an appearance for the Tractor Boys but, similarly to Maja this season, he rebuilt his career with impressive showings in League One for Barnsley. A case, therefore, for staying in the third tier, perhaps.
Released by the Black Cats in 2011, Egan is another who dropped down to League One in order to build-up his career. The centre back starred at Gillingham before joining Brentford and later Sheffield United in the Championship. Further evidence of how a spell in League One, rather than jumping up the leagues quickly, can pay dividends.
Bridges swapped Sunderland for Leeds in 1999 but, despite some initial success, he failed to impress at Elland Road. The striker went on to live something of a nomadic lifestyle as his career petered out, with spells at MK Dons, Carlisle and Newcastle Jets finishing-off what once looked a promising career.
Leadbitter is one of few who turned down a move from Sunderland, resisting Premier League interest after the club's relegation in 2006. He has gone on to forge a successful career at a high level and is perhaps a good example for Maja to follow as he weighs up his future.
The young stopper joined Tottenham from Sunderland in 2007 but made only three appearances for the Whites, before being shipped out on loan to several lower league clubs. Another good example of why it may be better to stick rather than twist.