Everything you need to know about where Sunderland stand on transfers, takeovers and contracts
Sunderland’s return to action is now less than a week away, with the Black Cats facing South Shields in their first pre-season friendly next Thursday.
The summer had been dominated by takeover talk but there was significant news this week with the departure of club stalwart Lee Cattermole.
So where does the club stand now and what is still to be resolved in the coming weeks?
We take a closer look….
Sunderland made their first transfer breakthroughs this week and addressed two major gaps in the squad.
Lee Burge bolstered a goalkeeping department light on numbers while Connor McLaughlin was the proven, orthodox option at right-back that was badly needed in the wake of Adam Matthews’ departure.
Required now are the signings that can help turn the side from the play-offs to automatic promotion, and it will surely be about quality, rather than quantity.
Jack Ross does not want too big a squad to work with but there are some areas in obvious need of a boost.
A touch more pace, probably on the wing, is crucial while at the very least, a proven centre-back and more athletic option in midfield is a neccesity.
Ethan Robson and Elliot Embleton have the potential to address that latter issue but with that area of the pitch still fiercely competitive despite Lee Cattermole’s exit, uncertainty over Dylan McGeouch’s future will continue.
To recruit further there seems likely to be rebalancing, as much for squad size as finances.
Most supporters are keen for the talented midfielder to thrive and reproduce his flashes of undoubted quality last season with more consistency, but the Scot has been candid in admitting he has a big decision to make over his future.
It was perhaps telling that when discussing his future after the play-off final, he drew reference to the style of play and demands of League One. At times, particularly during a 3-0 demolition at Accrington Stanley when McGeouch was dominant in a 4-4-2, he looked more than capable than thriving.
It’s one to watch as Aberdeen’s strong interest continues.
Bryan Oviedo is another player who is an obvious candidate to leave the club this summer.
Alongside Lee Cattermole, he was by far the biggest earner last season and with hopes high for Denver Hume, an exit would clearly suit all parties.
His departure is perhaps slightly more complex than Cattermole, who left by mutual consent earlier this week. That deal gave him the opportunity to find a new club while allowing Sunderland to manage some of the cost of his sizeable contract, still with two years to run, more sustainably over a longer period of time and clearing the way to freshen the midfield ranks.
Oviedo has had interest from Champions League clubs and will similarly be keen for a new start, with a resolution hopefully reached at some stage.
In terms of further outgoings, Jon McLaughlin has been linked with Championship sides but Sunderland have insisted that they do not want to sell and that’s a stance that simply must be maintained.
So while Sunderland’s business is now underway, there remains plenty to resolve in the coming weeks.
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He also said it would be ‘very clear’ which direction the club would head in.
That we’re one week into July with no new investors in place and transfer business beginning in earnest will give supporters a strong indication that as of now, no resolution is partcularly close and that the current hierarchy are pressing ahead.
The consortium led by Mark Campbell were identified as the preferred bidders earlier this summer and positive talks were held on Wearside. Campbell impressed with his plans for the club and due diligence was undertaken.
However, there are significant issues still to be resolved with the deal.
The deal is not dead, with Campbell still keen to invest and further talks planned.
The continued talks also raise the possibility of other potential investors coming to the table in the future.
Chairman Stewart Donald has insisted that the need for investment is not immediate and that it will only become a major priority should the club wish to compete in the upper end of the Championship.
Getting back into that division will be the immediate focus with further strengthening and balancing of the squad required.
A summer of speculation has not been ideal for supporters, understandably eager to see the side in good order a promotion push.
The base of that squad is far stronger than last summer, with all aware that further tweaks will be necessary.
Elliot Embleton is currently without a deal but talks are continuing with the club.
There remains hope on both sides that an agreement can be reached, reflected in the fact that the midfielder returned to the Academy of Light and began the full pre-season training schedule on Tuesday.
The talented midfielder is fully fit after recovering from the hamstring injury that cut his Grimsby loan short last season. A resolution in time to try and make a pre-season impression would be ideal.
Another contract situation likely to develop over the coming weeks and months is that of Aiden McGeady.
McGeady is understood to be keen to extend his deal, which expires next summer, by another year.
That’s a positive sign of how settled he is at the club and his happiness at playing Jack Ross, as well as his understandable desire for extra security.
The Black Cats will have to weigh up his undoubted importance with the extended financial commitment it would bring.
Sunderland are hopeful of reaching an agreement and it would be a major boost if that could be achieved.
The Irishman was inspirational last season and few players are capable of matching his attacking output.
In the meantime, his recovery from that troublesome foot injury last season is thought to be ongoing.
Benji Kimpioka is another player who Sunderland have been keen to seal a new deal for.
He has trained with the first team this week, a sign of how highly-rated he is by Jack Ross and his coaching staff.