Sunderland are looking at bargain buys in the German transfer market – regardless of whether a takeover goes through.
The Black Cats are ploughing on with their preparations for the new season despite uncertainty over who will be in charge of the club when their campaign kicks off on the first weekend in August.
With no manager in place, and owner Ellis Short locked in talks with a German consortium over buying the club there is a sense of real uncertainty around the Stadium of Light.
However, chief executive Martin Bain is working behind the scenes to line up a manager should the takeover fall through.
And with a squad decimated by departures, the club have also put transfer plans in place so they can hit the ground running when a new boss is appointed.
Bain and former manager David Moyes drew up two strategies during the Spring for both scenarios of Sunderland staying in the Premier League, and dropping into the Championship.
The Echo can reveal the latter plan involved the Black Cats preparing to look at the second tier of German football for some cheaper players – even before a consortium from the same country became interested in buying the club.
And despite Moyes’ departure, Sunderland are still looking at the Bundesliga 2 for potential signings this summer as they work on a restricted budget.
The Black Cats have seen the impact that players from the league did last season in the Championship at Huddersfield Town, who secured a sensational promotion via the play-offs having constructed a squad full of bargain foreign signings and loan players.
Terriers boss David Wagner raided his homeland to sign Christopher Schindler, Jon Gorenc-Stankovic, Collin Quaner, Elias Kachunga, Chris Lowe and Michael Hefele for a combined cost of just £3million.
All but Kachunga came from the second tier of German football, and combined with astute loan purchases such as Aaron Mooy (Manchester City), Isiah Brown (Chelsea) and Danny Ward (Liverpool) to propel Huddersfield into the Premier League.
Moyes and Bain had identified the Bundesliga 2 as offering value for money, as well as providing players better suited to life in the Championship.
In particular, Moyes was keen on bringing in players who had a degree of ‘Britishness’ to their game, having infamously dropped Didier Ndong against Burnley for that reason.
And with the new manager expected to have to rebuild a Sunderland squad that could be shorn of 15 players this summer, and finances tight, the club’s scouting team has been continuing to look at the continent, with a number of Austrian players also being scouted heavily recently.
Jordan Pickford has already joined Everton, Jermain Defoe’s move to Bournemouth will be confirmed soon, while the likes of Fabio Borini, Wahbi Khazri, Lamine Kone and Jeremain Lens are expected to be sold.
Loan players Javier Manquillo, Jason Denayer and Adnan Januzaj have returned to their parent clubs, while John O’Shea, Seb Larsson, Jan Kirchhoff, Steven Pienaar, Joleon Lescott, Victor Anichebe and Will Buckley are out of contract at the end of the month.