The current state of play with Dion Sanderson, Owen Dale, Ross McCrorie and Sunderland's transfer 'targets'
With the transfer window having opened this week, Sunderland remain on the hunt for their first summer signing.
The club’s recruitment team are keen to ensure they find the right players to fit their game model and player profiling – with a rebuild on the cards as the Black Cats look to gain promotion from League One at the fourth time of asking.
But while there have been no incomings to date, Sunderland have been linked with a host of players this summer.
So are those links realistic, and where do the potential deals stand at present? We take a look:
Dale has been heavily linked with the Black Cats this summer, while recent reports also suggested that Wycombe Wanderers were taking an interest in the young forward.
But as things stand, a potential move looks some way off.
Crewe boss David Artell confirmed this week that the club were yet to receive a bid for Dale, and the Railwaymen are in a strong position to keep the 22-year-old for next season.
“We have received no offers for any of our players,” said Artell.
"I have heard that Owen (Dale) has been linked to a few clubs. He is a good player and we will see what happens.
“He has had a good season and has come about because of our investment in his development. He is a great kid and has a great attitude.
“Is he ready to step up a level? I am not sure yet and I honestly think that he has to look at moving up a league because I think that any move to a League One club would be a sideways move.
“In my opinion he still has a way to go and he is contracted here and I am not losing any sleep over where Owen will be next season.”
Dale is under contract at Gresty Road until next summer, so a healthy sum could be required to test Crewe’s resolve.
There is no doubt that were Sanderson to be available this summer, then Sunderland would be interested.
Recent reports have suggested that Wolves are willing to allow the central defender to leave this summer – but with new manager Bruno Lage still casting his eye over the squad at his disposal, things could yet change.
A fee of £2million is reportedly what it will take to lure Sanderson away from Molineux and, while that would be a large fee for any League One club, it could be a sound investment.
Lee Johnson has spoken previously about ensuring that when fees are spent, they are viewed as investments. The 21-year-old would certainly fall into that category given he undoubtedly has the potential to play higher.
But that inevitably means there will be admiring glances from elsewhere, which could make this an interesting transfer saga to watch.
The Israeli striker has been linked with a host of clubs north and south of the border after a breakthrough season in Scotland.
He had been in discussions with former club St Johnstone over a new deal, but has departed the side following the end of his contract.
Given his promising goalscoring record, he’s likely to be a man in demand this summer. Ipswich and Portsmouth have both been linked with moves – although reports have suggested that the latter are not actively pursuing a move.
But whether he fits into Sunderland’s player profiles remains to be seen.
The club will be seeking a very specific type of forward this season, and will be keen to replace the goals of Charlie Wyke if the striker does indeed opt to depart amid those links to the Championship.
Whether Melamed is the right option remains to be seen.
CARLOS MENDES GOMES
Having caught the eye in the League Two play-offs, Mendes Gomes is expected to be a man in demand this summer.
The pacy winger is out of contract at Morecambe this summer and has been linked with a number of high-profile clubs – including both Sunderland and Rangers.
He’s been coy on his future in recent interviews, but will undoubtedly be on the radar of a several sides.
Kristjaan Speakman recently said that Sunderland were seeking ‘industrious players, who make bold decisions and have creativity’ in the summer window.
Mendes Gomes certainly falls into that category – but these type of players are always in high demand.
Pace and trickery are two attributes that have been lacking from the Sunderland squad in recent seasons – so could be a priority this time around.
McCrorie has been linked with Sunderland in the past, with the Black Cats thought to be monitoring the midfielder before a loan move to Portsmouth in 2019.
Now on the books of Aberdeen, the Scot is catching the eye north of the border and reports have suggested that he is on the Wearsiders’ wanted list this summer.
A fee of up to £1million may be required to seal a deal, though.
Again, this is an investment that could yield a return for Sunderland were it to be a deal they pursued.
But Aberdeen have made clear that they are in no hurry to sell.
With both McCrorie and fellow midfielder Lewis Ferguson in demand this summer – the latter thought to be interesting champions Rangers – Aberdeen are loathe to allow both players to depart in the same window.
So McCrorie’s future may well be hinged upon that of Ferguson.