Kristjaan Speakman reveals how Sunderland signed Jewison Bennette despite interest from other clubs

Kristjaan Speakman says Jewison Bennette had multiple options before joining Sunderland this summer – and has praised the club’s recruitment team for their part in the deal.

Bennette joined the Black Cats on a four-year contract, with a club option of a further year, from Costa Rican side C.S. Herediano last month, while the 18-year-old scored his first Sunderland goal in a 2-2 draw at Watford.

The transfer was completed after Sunderland’s Head of Player Recruitment Stuart Harvey travelled to Costa Rica to scout Bennette, before negotiations with the player took place.

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Sunderland also brought in French midfielders Abdoullah Ba and Edouard Michut from AC Le Havre and PSG respectively this summer, with the club looking to recruit young talent from across the globe.

Jewson Bennette’s goal for Sunderland at Watford. Picture by FRANK REID

“I think that’s the open-mindedness of this football club that you’ve got now,” Speakman told SAFC Unfiltered when discussing signings from abroad.

“I don’t think there is an issue around language, there’s not an issue around culture. There is a real openness around what type of talent that can come and trying to develop that exciting, hard-working, industrious, creative team, you want to have a little bit of a mix.

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“We are just trying to identify the talent we can get at the right value that we think can come in.

“Our recruitment team, led by Stuart, have done incredible jobs since we sort of formed and created that team.

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“They are an incredible help to myself, Steve (Davison) and Kyril (Louis-Dreyfus) because they are undergoing all the relevant due diligence you’d require, which is both qualitative in terms of watching the games and quantitative with the numbers to try to make sure we’re in a position to make the best decision. Then you have to do the leg work."

On the arrival of Bennette, who has aspirations of representing Costa Rica at this year’s World Cup, Speakman added: “Stuart Harvey was out in Costa Rica, bless him I think he thought there was going to be some sun and then it rained everyday so it’s just as well we got a good signing out of the back of it.

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“Stuart is out there watching two games, spending time with the family and convincing the boy that Sunderland is the best place to go.”

"I think everyone has seen the talent this kid has got and Sunderland wasn’t his only option, so you have to go and have to convince.

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“That’s where I think our football club can be really positive because we’re not just relying on an agent to communicate our message, but we are on the flight and we are out there.”

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“We are in the face, we’re presenting our project and giving them an insight into what it is and all of a sudden the players want to come and that’s down to Stewart and his team when it gets to that point and then everything else that goes on around formation of contracts et cetera to make sure we get the best deal.”