The seven key transfer storylines set to dominate Sunderland's summer - and what fans can expect from each one

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A number of crucial issues at Sunderland will be settled over the course of the summer transfer window

Sunderland are preparing for what is set to be a crucial summer transfer window as they look to bounce back from a disappointing 16th-placed finish last time out.

So what are the key storylines going to be and what can fans expect to happen at this stage? Here, we run you through...

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Styles signed on loan from Barnsley in January but as part of the deal, Sunderland negotiated a clause that would allow them to make the move permanent this summer. The 24-year-old made seven appearances across his loan spell across a variety of positions - he's known to have been a player the club had been tracking for numerous windows before making the move earlier this year.

The clause remains active for a while yet, meaning that the club's new head coach could yet have an input on whether or not to trigger it. Styles himself is preparing for the European Championships having been selected in Hungary's 26-man squad. Styles didn't make a huge impact in the second half of the season but was often played out of position and arrived still recovering from an injury, so the decision for Sunderland might not be as clear cut as first thought. Time will tell.


Rigg has had an excellent campaign and finished the side as a regular in Mike Dodds' XI. Next season will be the second year of his scholarship but he will be eligible to sign a professional contract when he turns 17 next June. It's a crucial moment in his career as in principle, he will be free to join whichever club he likes up. Of course it isn't quite that simple - as he is a scholar Sunderland will be able to demand a fee and if any interested club cannot agree a deal then it will be settled at a tribunal.

The decision for Rigg essentially boils down to this: Is his development best served at an elite club (and there are a host across Europe who would be eager to sign him) or by playing regular senior football in the Championship with Sunderland? Having agreed the outline of a pro deal last summer, the Black Cats are hopeful he will stay but given the calibre of clubs interested, there is no guarantee.

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Dodds suggested ahead of the end of the campaign that Clarke's exit was not as certain as many assumed. Sunderland rejected numerous bids last summer and have made clear that they will do so again if their significant valuation is not met - and it will be even greater this time around given the winger's form over the course of the campaign.

However, there is a reason many think Clarke will in all likelihood leave. He has two years left on his current deal, which means Sunderland do not have to sell but also means that his transfer value will begin to decline after this window. The two parties are significantly apart when it comes to the terms of a potential new deal and as such, an exit is a distinct possibility. The key question is whether after a quiet January transfer window in which financial fair play concerns were widespread, the Premier League clubs interested have the capital to come close to Sunderland's valuation. There could also be interest from top tiers elsewhere in Europe, Lazio made a bid in January and the success of Viktor Gyokeres at Sporting Lisbon has likely shown the potential value of the market. Clarke is not thought to be in any rush to leave but the chance to play in a top division will have its obvious appeal.


That Evans ended up playing considerably more football than expected in the final weeks of the season was testament to his recovery and quality, but also reflected the fact that Sunderland had still failed to find an adequate replacement almost eighteen months after he suffered that ACL injury against Middlesbrough.

While Dan Neil has deputised well on many occasions, an experience that will undoubtedly serve him well in his future career, that has in turn denied Sunderland one of their most creative players being able to threaten in advanced areas. Evans is expected to leave when his contract expires and having previously opted to try and find a solution internally, it will be interesting to see if the club opt to change their approach this summer and recruit a more specialist option. Evans' leadership and experience within the dressing room will certainly need to be replaced - Dodds has suggested this will be the case saying players with a significant number of Championship appearances are very much on the radar this summer.

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Patterson is drawing a lot of transfer interest and little wonder, there are very few homegrown goalkeepers with over 100 appearances to their name by the age of 24. A number of big clubs, including Arsenal and Liverpool, have been tracking his progress as they potentially prepare for an overhaul of their goalkeeping departments this summer. Sheffield United have also been credited with a strong interest, though a rumoured bid of around £8 million would fall well short of Sunderland's valuation - the goalkeeper still has three years to run on his current deal.

Like many of Sunderland's young squad, Patterson is thought to be settled at the club and in no real rush to leave. He'd also be reluctant to leave unless there was a clear development plan in place to ensure decent playing time. If Patterson was to depart then it would mean significant reinvestment would likely be required, both Nathan Bishop and Alex Bass are under contract for next season but have not pushed significantly for Patterson's place previously. Bass will have lots of EFL interest after a strong season on loan at AFC Wimbledon.

Players such as Trai Hume, Dan Neil and Dan Ballard could all follow Patterson in attracting top-tier interest and given their likely central roles in the team next season any departures would need top-quality replacements. In all cases, long-term contracts mean Sunderland start the summer from a position of strength.


Young had a hugely successful loan at Darlington last season and underlined his status as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in the country. Young is expected to spend much of the pre-season campaign with the first team before heading out on another loan. What remains to be seen is what level that is at - he'll undoubtedly step up from the National League North but may yet go to an EFL club.

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Perhaps the biggest question saved 'til last. Sunderland had a myriad of issues in the 2023/24 campaign but none were bigger through the first three quarters of the season than their consistent issues in trying to convert chances and dominance of games into goals. There are some potential solutions in the squad, of course. Jobe Bellingham showed real promise in the role at times and could pick it up again in pre-season, but clearly he can't be expected to shoulder the burden for a full campaign. And while a stronger campaign from Nazariy Rusyn is expected now that he has settled into the area and has a better grasp of the language, evidence so far suggests he could be more dangerous driving at goal from the wide areas.

A proven operator would transform this Sunderland side and potentially allow some of the younger players a valuable opportunity to go out on loan and build some confidence. The question again is whether the budget and the will is there to address this achilles heel. Sunderland did try to sign two different more experienced campaigners in January, which might be some cause for optimism but as ever competition will be fierce and the club’s pockets unlikely to be the deepest involved.

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