Cast aside his Newcastle United allegiance and Gary Madine would be a perfect signing for Sunderland
The January transfer window can be a minefield; a calculated gamble at times.
Phil Parkinson, though, is looking for quality. He wants to bring in players with League One know-how, who are prepared to make an impact at the earliest opportunity.
Gary Madine, therefore, could be the most logical deal Sunderland complete this month.
The striker was released by Cardiff City today and, while there is no official confirmation of the Black Cats’ interest in the 29-year-old, it would be a surprise if Madine doesn’t feature on Parkinson’s long list of striker targets for this month.
Equally, it would be a surprise if there wasn’t interest from the Championship in the former Sheffield Wednesday man, but the lure of a reunion with Parkinson - and a return home to the North East – could prove too tempting.
Madine is notoriously a home bird. His move to Sheffield United last term was fuelled somewhat by a desire to return closer to his hometown of Gateshead, although there were naturally on-field incentives too.
So Sunderland, therefore, would likely be an attractive option for Madine on a personal basis. Yes, he’s a Newcastle United fan – but he won’t be the first nor the last player to pull on the red and white stripes despite his allegiances lying on the other side of the North East.
On the pitch, too, Madine could be a fine fit for the Black Cats.
He has played under Parkinson before and flourished, helping to fire Bolton to promotion from League One having slotted seamlessly into his desired style of play.
Parkinson wants a striker who can benefit from the increased supply his new system is bringing. Much has been made of the increased number of deliveries into the box since his arrival and in Madine, Sunderland could finally have a striker who is able to make the most of Denver Hume and Chris Maguire’s plentiful supply of crosses.
That’s no slight on Charlie Wyke, who has done a stellar job leading the line in recent weeks and is arguably playing some of his best football since arriving on Wearside, but Madine’s extra quality could prove key in propelling Sunderland up the table.
His off-field antics have obviously dominated the discussion in recent years, but his on-field nous should not go unnoticed.
I watched Madine during one of the most prolific campaigns of his career, as he netted 13 times before Christmas for a Carlisle United side who were, at best, bang average in League One.
What they did have, however, were a number of creative talents. Ben Marshall and Francois Zoko were tasked mainly with supplying Madine with plenty of ammunition – and he made no mistake in the area.
Even when he wasn’t at his best – and indeed, when the team were struggling (which with Carlisle, is more often that not) – he still managed to contribute a fairly handsome goal return. That ability to regularly contribute could be key, given Sunderland have lacked a prolific striker since the departure of Josh Maja.
His character can be complex and challenging at times. To use the old cliche, he’s the kind of player you hate to play against, but love to have on your side.
But Parkinson is a manager who knows how to unleash his best form. You need only look at his goal return during Bolton’s promotion-winning season to see that the Sunderland boss can bring the best out of the striker.
Madine is set to announce his next move on Friday and, while it remains to be seen whether he will pen a deal with the Black Cats, it would be a move that would suit both parties.