The transfer business Sunderland still need to do explained and the funds they likely have to do it

After a crucial 1-0 win over Peterborough United, Phil Parkinson and his backroom staff are set to plot the way forward in the transfer market in the early part of this week.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 12:30 pm

Parkinson still wants 'one or two' additions to ensure he has the depth he feels he needs for what is set to be a punishing schedule, particularly as we enter the autumn months.

Injuries and suspension have already affected Parkinson's options, and more in the coming weeks are surely inevitable.

So what do Sunderland still need to do, and crucially, what room for maneouvre do they have under the new salary cap rules?

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Sunderland still need to find cover for Denver Hume before the transfer window shuts
Sunderland still need to find cover for Denver Hume before the transfer window shuts

Sunderland’s current salary cap situation

Under the new rules, clubs are limited to 22 players over the age of 21 in their squad.

As it stands, Sunderland have 19.

However, there has been some confusion over the status of Aiden McGeady. The rules published by the EFL have suggested that clubs have the option of leaving out any players they do not wish use to from their squad list.

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In theory, then, Sunderland would not be able to select McGeady but he would not count towards the cap.

That would suit the Black Cats, but with the rules rushed through this summer and with much still not entirely clear, there had in the early parts of the window been understandable caution behind the scenes, particularly as the winger is currently sidelined with a calf problem.

For now, we will assume that he does not count towards the cap.

That leaves Sunderland with three senior slots available in their squad, which would allow Parkinson to complete his business without issue.

Where the greater issues lie are likely are in finance.

Speaking just over a week ago, Parkinson conceded: "It's such a difficult balancing act because we have a limited amount left to spend, purely because of the salary cap."

Even rough, approximate calculations underline why this is the case.

When the rules were voted through earlier in the summer, any player already contracted to a club had their wage (for purposes of the cap) calculated at the league average, which was £113,000 a year.

Excluding McGeady, Sunderland had 16 players affected by that ruling at the time.

It left them with, in theory, £580,000 for five players. That worked out around £2,200 a week for each player.

Since then, they have signed Remi Matthews, Arbenit Xhemajli and Danny Graham.

Their salaries are of course undisclosed, but two of the three have significant Championship experience and the other was playing at a good level on the continent.

Even if we are to apply the average salary mentioned above to each signing and then calculate what Sunderland have left, it still only works out at around £354,000 (or £6,800 a week) to play with.

The actual figure could of course be lower, and remember that the cap also includes any agent fees or payments made in concluding a deal.

Consider, too, that Sunderland have a number of talented assets in the final year of their current deal (Luke O’Nien, Jordan Willis and Denver Hume to name three).

Should they renew at any time, their wage for the cap will no longer be the divisional average, but the new salary that they are earning.

The two key positions for Parkinson to fill

All of which underlines why the loan market and U21 additions are attractive to the Black Cats right now.

At the moment, it looks as if there are two key positions that Parkinson wants to fill.

The priority, clearly, is competition and cover at left wing-back.

Denver Hume continues to go from strength to strength and would take some shifting from the side, but there is a recognition that he cannot play every minute of every game.

The situation is not critical, in that O'Nien and Lynden Gooch can offer emergency cover (Tom Flanagan probably could too), but that is probably not sustainable for the course of a full season.

It seems certain that this will be a slot filled by one of the senior spaces available, and Parkinson has options in mind if a deal that suits all parties can be struck.

Parkinson is keeping across the loan market but the reality is that most Premier League clubs want guarantees for their youngsters. Hume's form makes that difficult.

Parkinson's plans have also been complicated by the serious injury suffered by Morgan Feeney.

Though Parkinson does have plenty of options, it's a question of balance.

He is likely to continue with three at the back for the forseeable future and wants two options in every position.

On the left, he has Flanagan and Xhemajli. On the right, Willis and Conor McLaughlin (with Brandon Taylor as additional cover).

Feeney was the understudy to Bailey Wright in the middle, with Parkinson believing they share similar characteristics.

So Parkinson is keen for another addition in that position, and clearly the U21 market will be an option he has to consider.

Any other business?

Many supporters are keen to see at least one other attacking addition, though the above outlines why that could be tricky.

Parkinson, too, has Embleton returning to fitness and potentially, Benji Kimpioka returning to the club (though he will be well short of match fitness).

The pursuit of Mateo Bajamich shows he is not against another additon up front, though competition is fierce for the Argentinian. He has also said he will only loan a player if they immediately improve his starting XI.

Parkinson has noted Bajamich's pace and dynamism, which underlines the characterstics he may be open to adding.

It shows there could be funds available for an U21 player, but it's worth stressing that it does not mean one will arrive, regardless of what happens with the Bajamich pursuit.

These deals are about a calculated gamble and require agreement across key figures at the club.

One to watch, rather than one to expect.

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