Alex Neil explains Sunderland's recruitment strategy following Aji Alese's arrival from West Ham

Alex Neil says the majority of Sunderland’s transfer budget will be spent on younger players this summer while the Black Cats boss will always have the final say on a potential signing.

Sunderland have spent money to bring Daniel Ballard, Jack Clarke and Aji Alese to the club in recent weeks, with all three players under the age of 23.

Predominantly recruiting younger players is a strategy the Black Cats have followed over the last 12 months, and will continue to implement following promotion to the Championship.

“I think what we all need to be really clear on is a strategy and a structure of the club,” said Neil.

Sunderland boss Alex Neil.

“The strategy for this club is to buy young developing players, improve them and create value within the team, create value within the club and the squad.

“They will be supplemented by senior players, a Danny Batth, a Bailey Wright, a Corry Evans, an Alex Pritchard, but the majority of our transfer fees, pretty much all of our transfer fees, will be spent on younger players.”

Alese, 21, signed a three-year deal at Sunderland, with a club option of a further year, and played regularly for West Ham’s under-23s side in Premier League 2 last season.

The centre-back, who came through the Hammers’ academy set-up, also trained with the senior squad and was named on the bench for 11 Premier League matches during the 2021/22 campaign.

When asked about how the deal came about and was completed, Neil replied: “This is the bit that people always get mixed up with in most football clubs.

“There’s never ever been any club in the history of football probably, certainly in the last ten years, where a manager will solely pick a player.

“It’s a collective effort, we need to make sure the money is right, we need to make sure the progress in terms of where we’re looking to try and take the team is right.

“Equally ,I will always have the final decision on whether I want to sign a player or not. I think that’s vitally important so it’s a collective effort.”