Sunderland transfers: The Jobe Bellingham call that makes sense for all parties and should encourage fans

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Sunderland youngster Jobe Bellingham has interest from a number of top-tier clubs

The first thing to say is that with almost two months of the transfer window still to run, there are no guarantees. Best laid plans can go wildly awry in that time and the clearest of intentions can become blurred. It's nevertheless significant that Jobe Bellingham has started pre-season very much with the intention of staying with Sunderland for at least another season, as reliably relayed by transfer insider Fabrizio Romano.

It's a decision that should suit all parties. Sunderland have been relatively relaxed about the transfer interest in Bellingham so far this summer, with sources privately pointing out that the 18-year-old has three years left to run on the long-term he agreed last season. Only a huge bid would force them to sell but It was equally clear that should Bellingham make clear that he wished to make the move now, and the bid from a top-tier club was big enough, then it would leave them in a difficult position and some pragmatism would likely have to be shown.

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From Sunderland's perspective, a move now was never going to make sense. Bellingham is only just scratching the surface of his obvious potential, a youngster be stronger for his first full season of professional football and all the challenges that came with it. He showed an exemplary attitude across his first season, a real tactical aptitude and the most valuable trait of all: a genuine eye for goal. Sunderland's goal is to find a settled position and role for him within the team, something that Régis Le Bris already has a clear plan for. Their belief is that if he kicks on as you'd expect over the next twelve months as you'd expect, with some of the fatigue issues that were on show at times last season likely to be less of an issue given his growing experience, then he can be a force in a team that pushes for promotion. And if they don't manage that, his value will have rocketed.

A tougher decision is for the player himself. Crystal Palace, the team who pushed hardest for his signature in recent weeks, have a strong track record of signing players from the EFL and giving them regular first-team opportunities. There would have been much logic to that move but his first-team chances are clearly best served by staying at Sunderland. Sources have always been clear that the 18-year-old also has a genuine respect and admiration for both the club and its supporters, which will undoubtedly be a factor. He is ferociously ambitious, but leaving after such a disappointing finish to the campaign would have been a disappointment for all concerned. The pressure and intensity of the club is an incredibly valuable experience as he sets out in his career, and there is a genuine gratitude for the room he’s had to start building his career.

Bellingham can also perhaps take some inspiration from Jack Clarke's decision last summer. Clarke was open to a top-tier move but never pushed for it, grateful for the opportunity he had at Sunderland and in no rush to move on. Burnley's bids fell well short of Sunderland's valuation and so a move never progressed. Then head coach Tony Mowbray spoke regularly with the winger and the feeling was that another season at Sunderland could transform his prospects if he stayed fit and continues his progress. If that didn't lead to Sunderland's promotion, then Clarke's stock would be even higher. That would potentially open up a move to a more established Premier League club, where his chances of being a regular starter would be higher and all the other rewards that come with such a switch even greater. That has not as of yet come to pass in the current summer transfer window but if Clarke is to leave over the next year, all parties with benefit from that patience in a sporting and a financial sense.

For what it's worth, Sunderland sources indicate privately that Clarke is by no means certain to leave this summer and that there'll be no cut-price sale. No breakthrough on a contract front appears to be imminent but the club are well aware that the 23-year-old could be a game changer for their promotion hopes and if they were to go up, the financial reward far outstrips what they would bring in now. But regardless of what happens with Clarke, Bellingham's decision is further good news that the club are looking onwards and upwards and after last season's disappointment. With Chris Rigg signing his first pro deal, there are signs that internally the club's plans for the new campaign under Le Bris have impressed and reassured the playing squad. It's still far too early to rule out any exits, including Bellingham's, but the noises are encouraging.

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