Celtic, Arsenal and Liverpool's interest in £20m-rated Sunderland star is genuine - transfer status explained

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Sunderland’s goalkeeping situation will provide an interesting sub-plot to the club’s head coach search this summer.

Sunderland’s goalkeeping situation makes for interesting viewing ahead of the summer transfer window.

Anthony Patterson has been Sunderland’s deserved number one since midway through the club’s final season in League One after he was brought in to replace Ron-Thorben Hoffmann under Alex Neil. Since then, the North Shields-born stopper has made 104 straight league appearances for the Black Cats. 109 if you include play-off games.

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Patterson’s successful run in Sunderland’s first-team has prompted transfer reports to emerge linking Arsenal, Liverpool and Celtic with a move during the summer window. Some outlets have rated the goalkeeper as worth as much as £10m to £20m. The Echo understands that the interest from the trio is indeed genuine. Patterson is seen as a hugely desirable commodity for several reasons.

Firstly, Patterson is homegrown and would help Premier League clubs fill their homegrown quota. Secondly, he is hugely talented. His shot-stopping abilities are superb and he has improved his physical presence and command of his penalty area in recent months. Patterson is also capable of making big saves under pressure. Think of Sam Vokes’ chance for Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley. Patterson also enjoys a decent penalty-saving record.

Of course, there is still work to be done regarding other aspects of Patterson’s game, his kicking and distribution for instance. However, Patterson is still only relatively young for a goalkeeper at just 23 and still has time to develop. His North East goalkeeping colleague Nick Pope, an excellent Premier League number one and England international, provides an intriguing comparison. At the same age, Pope was playing for York City in League Two.

Another string to Patterson’s bow - aside from his tally of 134 senior appearances - is that he is regularly playing in front of crowds of over 40,000 at Sunderland in a sometimes pressured environment. Patterson’s calm temperament and ability to perform at such a big club has caught the attention of other big teams in the United Kingdom.

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The Echo understands, though, that Patterson is not expecting to leave, nor is he actively pushing for a move. Patterson is a boyhood Sunderland fan and remains content playing for the club. However, just because the player is happy at the moment does not mean he will definitely stay put this summer.

If Patterson were to leave Sunderland for a new challenge, his camp would likely need to be convinced that the buying club had a clear plan for him. A move to Liverpool or Arsenal for instance would likely see Patterson become a back-up to experienced players like Alisson and David Raya. Though if Patterson was promised starts in league and cup games throughout the season with a view to him being integrated as the number one choice over a couple of years, then it may prove difficult for Sunderland to hold on to their man. Sunderland, though, are protected by the long-term deal Patterson signed last October, which will run until the summer of 2028.

Should a major bid come in for Patterson, though, it is possible that Sunderland could accept. The model at the club currently focuses on up-skilling and developing players before selling for big money and reinvesting. The idea is to bridge the gap to those teams in the Championship with Premier League parachute money through smart recruitment and player sales, though many would argue that ploy has gone array in recent windows. Any sale of Patterson, an academy graduate, would also present pure profit to Sunderland and would reflect well against the EFL’s financial rules.

What happens after Anthony Patterson?

What happens after Patterson could prove to be an interesting situation at the club in the event that his departure is sanctioned, though it’s worth noting that interim head coach Mike Dodds reiterated this week that the club are under no pressure to sell any of their assets. Sunderland are, in one sense, blessed in the goalkeeping department at the Academy of Light. Matty Young, 17, has been making waves while on loan at Darlington. There’s also the highly-rated 18-year-old Dan Cameron. Despite their talent, however, neither Cameron nor Young would be seen as ready to take the number one goalkeeping spot at a Championship club just yet. Cameron has no experience when it comes to senior men’s football just yet and will require a loan before he can be properly considered. 20-year-old Adam Richardson too is a good prospect but also lacks senior experience.

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The Echo also understands that whilst Young has impressed at Darlington at such a young age, he is more likely to move up to the National League or League Two next season rather than compete with Patterson or become the club’s number one. It is simply just a bit too soon for him despite his obvious talent. Sunderland, however, won’t be in any hurry to let the pair leave early in the transfer window so expect to see both involved during pre-season. As Dodds said last week, Young will get every chance to impress during that period and if he does, then who knows?

If Young does depart on loan, and that seems the most likely development at this stage, it leaves number two Nathan Bishop at the club, who has only played in one senior game for Sunderland. The 24-year-old does have experience in League One and League Two but has never played a Championship game despite being with Sunderland since last summer. It is thought to be unlikely but not impossible that the former Manchester United man would become Patterson’s successor. It is also unlikely to be returning loanee Alex Bass, who is set to come back to Sunderland at the end of the season from AFC Wimbledon.

That means that in the event of a Patterson sale, which as mentioned earlier is not a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination, Sunderland would likely need to dip into the transfer market to sign a replacement. The situation is certainly one to watch as the summer wears on and provides an interesting sub-plot to Sunderland’s documented head coach hunt and the speculation surrounding Jack Clarke. Clarke’s departure would, it is worth noting, significantly strengthen Sunderland’s position should bids then arrive for Patterson or any other of their best young players.

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