The positive approach Sunderland have taken amid the summer transfer market as long-term vision adopted

Proactive rather than reactive.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 12:30 pm

That’s how the best football clubs tend to operate – and it now seems to be the case at Sunderland

The news of Anthony Patterson’s new long-term contract came as something of a surprise, albeit a pleasant one, given the stopper had a year remaining on his current terms after an extension was triggered last season.

Since their drop into League One, Sunderland have generally only engaged in contract talks with players once they enter the final months of their deals.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman

There are, of course, exceptions – and it’s worth noting that the vast majority of third tier clubs operate in a similar manner.

But Sunderland aren’t your typical League One club, are they?

With a category one academy supplying a steady stream of talent, there will be assets drawing admiring glances from elsewhere – and proactively ensuring they are tied-down to contracts that protect their value is essential.

It is something that has been spoken about frequently since the club’s drop into League One, and particularly in the aftermath of Josh Maja’s exit, but still players have been allowed to leave the club for nothing after their contracts ran to an end.

Last summer saw Jon McLaughlin – a goalkeeper who undoubtedly would have commanded a strong fee in the current market – allowed to walk for nothing, while the in-demand Luke O’Nien could yet follow suit this summer, as talks over his future continue.

If Sunderland are to improve as a club, both from a footballing and fiscal perspective, this is an area that needs to be addressed.

And the early signs this summer are that it will be.

In ensuring Patterson and fellow youngster Ellis Taylor have committed their long-term futures to the club, Sunderland have protected their value and given them chance to grow. It would be little surprise to see further deals dished out to youngsters soon, too.

During summer transfer windows it can be easy to get bogged down in the short-term and focus purely on the current trading period rather than the bigger picture.

So much credit must go to Kristjaan Speakman and the club’s footballing team in being proactive when it comes to the club’s young players this summer.

And here’s hoping Sunderland continue to be proactive, rather than reactive, moving forward.

A message from the Football Clubs Editor:

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Sunderland AFC coverage 365 days a year.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor