With Sunderland struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table, January recruits are a must if they are to maintain their Premier League status.
Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce has already admitted he is beginning to line-up targets for the January transfer window, insisting he will only bring in the “right players” who are ready to make an immediate impact in Sunderland’s survival fight.
West Ham centre-back James Collins, Spurs winger Andros Townsend and £7million-rated Olympiakos full-back Arthur Masuaku are all being tracked by the Wearsiders, but, in order to bring players in, the likelihood is players will have to be moved on to balance the books.
Here we pick out five players that could be heading for the Sunderland exit door during the January sales.
The Swedish international was last year’s Player of the Season, but has struggled for first team opportunities this year. The set-piece specialist has only started three games and, since new boss Allardyce has taken the reins, he has been limited to substitute opportunities, since starting against West Brom.
With Larsson seemingly not in the first-team picture this year, it may be that he is moved on to accomodate fresh blood.
The forward bagged a goal and put in a man-of-the-match performance for the Under-21 side on Wednesday night against Athletic Bilbao. Yet, for the first team, he has only made two starts this season, and in two-and-a-half years on Wearside, he only has one goal to his name.
Out of contract in the summer, while earning around £40,000 per week, it may be Sunderland cash in on Graham in January, with a lot of reported interest from Championship clubs.
Brought in last January to revive Sunderland’s misfortune in front of goal, the England international played a pivotal role in the Sunderland side that achieved Premier League survival.
Yet this season he has been a bit of a fringe figure since Allardyce’s arrival and the 33-year-old has said at his age, he wants to be playing football regularly and scoring goals.
With Big Sam seemingly looking to deploy a 4-5-1 formation, to make his side difficult to break down, it’s difficult to see Defoe being used as any more than an impact sub, and, with former club Bournemouth keeping tabs on the ex-Toronto forward, it may be that he moves on in January.
Hailed as one of the countries brightest talents when he broke into the Everton first-team, Rodwell’s career has went alarmingly downhill since joining Manchester City for £10.5 million in 2012.
A move to Wearside in 2014 was designed to get the Southport-born midfielder’s career back on track, but he has failed to cement a starting place in a struggling Sunderland side.
Rodwell’s under contract until 2019, with a lucrative wage packet.
For a player who isn’t a regular starter, it may be that Allardyce could be tempted to move him on to fund a big January move.
The Dutch international made no secret of the role Dick Advocaat played in bringing him to Wearside in a £7.98 million summer move from Dynamo Kiev.
Since then, Advocaat has resigned, and Lens has found himself on the bench for Sunderland’s last two matches under Sam Allardyce, with young talent Duncan Watmore preferred to the former PSV man against Southampton.
Nonetheless, when on the field, Lens has looked Sunderland’s biggest creative threat, with two goals and two assists to his name so far this season, and while he may not be involved in the first-team picture now, there is no doubt Allardyce will require his services in the near future.
- SEAN McCORMICK