Sunderland boss aims for January bargain

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill
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MARTIN O’NEILL says Sunderland CAN get value for money in next month’s transfer window – as he proved when he signed Ashley Young for Aston Villa.

The January window is often held up as a month when desperate clubs are held to ransom.

But the Black Cats boss insists that it is possible to pick up good signings at decent value – be they on loan or permanent.

He told the Echo: “People have always said that because it’s January, it’s kind of a seller’s market, as it were– that if you bought somebody, you might pay too much.

“But I’m not so sure that that’s necessarily true.

“I think that if you think there’s somebody there who can improve your side, somebody you feel is going to be a decent player for the football club, then you might have to pay some extra for him.

“My own experience of that was Ashley Young.”

Then Villa manager, O’Neill was keen to sign the flying winger from relegation-bound Watford in the January transfer window of 2009 and persuaded his board to sanction a move for £9.65m.

Young went on to be a star performer for a Villa side that became a fixture in the top third of the table during O’Neill’s reign and he was later sold to Manchester United for £17m.

And O’Neill felt that if Villa had not gone for Young when they did, he could easily have been out of the club’s price range by the end of the season.

“At the time that we bought him, I felt that if we waited on until the summertime, there might be more teams coming in for him,” the Sunderland manager said.

“So we bit the bullet and took him on. That was January and he was a great signing.”

O’Neill has already drawn up his plans for team strengthening in the January window – although fans should not necessarily expect a move as bold as the one for Young – and the club has already begun making enquiries about potential targets.

The Black Cats boss confirmed that players have already been identified who can strengthen the club in the New Year.

“I think that first of all, you have to try as best you can to have people in mind,” he said.

“Those things might not come to fruition but I do believe you should have people in mind that you think can come in and help – not only in the short-term but be proper players here for the not-too-distant future.”