Deal or no deal? Big decisions to make over Sunderland players out of contract this summer

Victor Anichebe
Victor Anichebe
0
Have your say

“I’m not interested until the end of the season, or certainly until we know what our league status is going to be.”

The words of Sunderland boss David Moyes when asked whether there would be any talks with those players entering the final months of their current deals.

That was back in December. A wise policy given Sunderland’s perilous league position.

Sadly, four months on and Sunderland’s league position is now even worse with the Black Cats staring Championship football in the face.

Sunderland will continue to battle for their top flight status until it remains mathematically impossible but thoughts are already moving to next season with the club gearing up for a major summer overhaul.

We assess those players set to be out of contract to see whether Sunderland should look to keep hold of any of them.

John O’Shea

The veteran skipper is in the twilight of his playing career, with O’Shea turning 36 at the end of this month.

O’Shea would arguably have been fourth choice centre-back this season but Papy Djilobodji has failed to impress, with Jason Denayer deployed in a number of positions. It has meant O’Shea has made 23 appearances so far.

Moyes, like so many Sunderland managers before him, has become dependent on O’Shea’s leadership, temperament and organisational skills at the back.

The former Manchester United defender is coming to the end of his playing days but he wants to feature at next summer’s World Cup in Russia so shows no signs of hanging up his boots just yet.

O’Shea has been an excellent servant and is worthy of another playing deal at Sunderland. He would also be a huge asset in a coaching role.

Verdict: New one-year playing deal and a coaching role in future

Seb Larsson

The Swede has been a loyal servant to Sunderland since arriving on Wearside in the summer of 2011 but if the Black Cats go down then a major rebuild is on the cards.

Larsson’s powers have waned over the past 18-months, with the midfielder not having the same impact he once had in a red and white shirt.

A serious knee injury hampered Larsson last year, with the 31-year-old not featuring for Sunderland’s first team until December. He has made 19 appearances since but his influence has waned.

Verdict: No deal

Victor Anichebe

Signed a one-year deal when he arrived last September. Once he was fully match fit, Anichebe made a huge difference during the run in November/December when Sunderland won four out of seven games.

His knee injury in January was a huge blow to the survival hopes and his recent return will come too late to save Sunderland.

When he is fit, he is almost unstoppable but the problem is keeping him fit. His injury record may put other suitors off and with Jermain Defoe almost certain to leave should the club be relegated, then they will be desperately short of strikers. Anichebe could do a job in the Championship, provided he stays fit.

Verdict: New one-year deal

Jan Kirchhoff

One of the savours of last season when he arrived for a cut-price £750,000 fee from Bayern Munich. Kirchhoff was immense in central midfield.

But Sunderland’s midfield needs a rebuild with more robust players capable of playing 40+ games.

Fan favourite Kirchhoff will be fondly remembered on Wearside but his injury problems have seen him miss the bulk of this campaign.

He is still only 26 so time is on his side but given his injury problems it would be no surprise should Sunderland not offer him a new deal.

Verdict: No deal

Steven Pienaar

Pienaar turned 35 last month and despite Moyes being a big fan, surely the midfielder’s spell on Wearside will be confined to one injury-hit season.

Sunderland’s biggest problem this season has been the midfield; more pace and creativity is needed. Pienaar no longer fits that bill.

Verdict: No deal

Joleon Lescott

Signed on a short-term deal as back-up in January, Lescott has only played 33 minutes for Sunderland, as a second-half sub in the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace.

He hasn’t even managed to make it on the bench in recent weeks and doesn’t have a future on Wearside.

Verdict: No deal

George Honeyman

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder has previously been tracked by several Football League clubs.

At the height of the injury crisis, Honeyman started against Burnley in the FA Cup and West Brom in the league, while coming on as a sub against Spurs and Everton but he has failed to break into the first team on a regular basis.

Championship football would increase his chances of a regular game but the jury remains out on Honeyman, who has been at the club since the age of 10.

Verdict: The jury is still out