Alex Neil explains why Sunderland have signed West Ham defender Aji Alese on a permanent deal
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The 21-year-old has signed an initial three-year deal on Wearside, with a club option of a further year.
The move means Sunderland have four first-team centre-backs to choose from, with Alese joining new signing Daniel Ballard, Bailey Wright and Danny Batth.
Reacting to the move, Sunderland boss Alex Neil told the club’s website: “Aji is left-footed and he’s really quick.
"I like having balance in my team and he was at a stage whereby he was really pushing to get into West Ham’s first team, so we felt it was a really good fit for us.
"More and more, I think young lads are realising that they need to get on the pitch and show what they can do.
"It is important that Aji comes here, shows his quality and gets into the team - that will be up to him, but he has already shown an appetite to play and the qualities that he brings are ones that I think we needed to add to the squad.”
Alese said: “It’s amazing to be here and I’m happy the deal is done.
"I live five minutes away from West Ham’s training ground and I’ve been there since the age of eight, so it could have been easier to stay but life isn’t easy and I’m ready for the challenge.
"I spoke to Alex Neil, Kristjaan Speakman and Stuart Harvey and I got a great feeling about Sunderland AFC. This is the place I want to be, so now it’s time to crack down and get ready for the new season.”
Sunderland are preparing for their pre-season friendly against Dundee United at Tannadice Park this weekend.
The Black Cats will then face Bradford, Accrington Stanley and Hartlepool in the coming weeks, before their Championship opener against Coventry City on Sunday, July 31 at the Stadium of Light.