Five players Sunderland should sign this summer

Martin O’Neill has a very-clear signing policy, which is to get British players first and foremost, ideally those with Premier League experience but he has dabbled in the Scottish market too. Sunderland seem to be able to pull together good amounts of money every transfer window, which is important considering how much more expensive it is to buy players domestically than from abroad. They will spend a lot if they find players O’Neill wants. The likes of Fletcher, Graham and Johnson have been bought for the top end of their value. O’Neill is an attractive manager for players and they have been willing to go to Sunderland for a good few years. They seem to be able to sign players from most teams in the league, particularly teams that usually hang around the bottom half of the table. With this in mind, who will they be looking at this summer?

Robert Snodgrass – Norwich

Scout Report Snodgrass has proven to be one of the shrewdest purchases of the summer 2012 window, not just for Norwich, but across the league. In his first season in the top flight he has looked like a natural, chipping in with four goals and four assists in the league from the right wing. He is skilful, technically exemplary and offers a direct threat. He is very creative and has often been the main flair player for Norwich this year.

Robert Snodgrass

Where does he fit? Sunderland have a chronic lack of creativity. Only Adam Johnson and Stephane Sessegnon offer anything even approaching flair. Johnson hasn’t been very good this year though, he hasn’t been able to impose himself on games like he did at Manchester City now that he is the main man. Sessegnon has been wretchedly inconsistent, but more often than not he’s been ineffective. So much so that he has been shifted out wide where he has had less impact. Snodgrass could play on one wing with whoever is in form on the other.

How much? Norwich aren’t a club that can turn down big offers so something in the £6-8m region would be about right.

James McCarthy – Wigan

Scout Report McCarthy is a footballing central midfielder who is a good and imaginative passer of the ball. At just 22 he has plenty of potential yet to unlock. He is an excellent technician and now needs to add goals and assists to his game to take him to the next level.

Jaes McCarthy

Where does he fit?
Sunderland have a bunch of plodders and workmen in the middle of their midfield. The likes of Larsson, Gardner and Colback are bits and pieces type players, none of them capable of passing the ball dangerously or creating something for the attackers. McCarthy would add something completely different to that. Sunderland have enough grit, they need some sparkle.

How much? Wigan will always sell and £5-6m would be good for both teams.

Gary Mackay-Steven – Dundee United

Scout Report Mackay-Steven is a flair-loaded attacking player capable of playing in any of the forward positions. He is fleet footed and well balanced and is now adding end product to his general threat having picked up four goals and four assists this season. He is raw, but capable of the unexpected.

Gary Mackay-Steven

Where does he fit? Sunderland’s attacking pattern is so obvious that every team they face knows how to shut it down. If the old, pass it wide, do a few step overs, cross aimlessly, doesn’t work they don’t have anything else to offer. Mackay-Steven would be an X-Factor; able to unlock defences with a jinking run or a bit of trickery. He might be frustrating and not as hard a worker as O’Neill likes but so was Ashley Young at Villa and he did OK for him.

How much? He would be a snip at around £1-2m.

Yannick Bolasie – Crystal Palace

Scout Report Bolasie has good versatility, able to operate near enough anywhere in midfield or attack. He is a real physical specimen, big, strong and quick, unusually so for the positions he operates in. He has a long languid style and looks disarmingly relaxed on the field. However, when he gets the ball at his feet he either runs straight at his opponents are finds a direct pass. He can score and make goals.

Yannick Bolasie

Where does he fit? Sunderland don’t really have any pure athletes in their attack. Bolasie is an all round package in that respect. He can operate in so many different positions, a useful asset for making the first team at a club with a small squad, and brings something the club don’t currently have. He could offer a real change of pace and a new angle of attack.

How much? Not for sale if Palace go up but if they don’t it would be hard for them to resist £3-4m, even with the Zaha money.

Sascha Riether – FC Koln

Scout Report Riether has shown on loan at Fulham that he is very much a Premier League full back. He is tactically sound, works hard and is capable of picking a pass when he ventures forward.

Sascha Riether

Where does he fit? Sunderland’s defence has been a revolving door this season. They have been particularly unsettled at full back where they have recently been deploying two central midfielders. They need a full back that they can just leave to get on with it, and Riether would be ideal for that. O’Neill can put him in and not worry about him whilst he tries to fix the attack.

How much? They would be bidding against Fulham in the £3m range.

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Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham: have a look at Crystal Palace’s Glenn Murray

Hands up if you know who is the top scorer in English league football? Not in the Premier League – Luis Suarez falls seven goals short. We are talking about the top scorer across all four divisions.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if you haven’t heard of him. He isn’t even the most talked about player at his club. But it is something of a shock that more people aren’t singing his praises. His exploits certainly deserve it.

Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray already has 29 league goals this season. And yet it is his precocious teammate Wilfried Zaha who hogs the headlines. And when observers talk of other Palace players, they mention Yannick Bolasie or Jonny Williams.

Glenn Murray

Somehow, the player who scores all the goals has missed all the headlines.

But after years as what we will somewhat lazily term a journeyman, Murray is having the season of his life. And with his Palace side sitting third in the table, one point from automatic promotion, it could get even better.

To say that Murray has arrived out of nowhere would be doing him a disservice. Now 29, he has been scoring goals at various levels since his debut for non-league Workington Reds in 2002. After a spell in America, he returned to score nine goals in nine games for Barrow, before winning consecutive promotions with Carlisle United, although this was also his most barren scoring period.

A goal every other game for Rochdale and almost the same in three years at Brighton show a man who has been doing what he does for a long time. Only now he is doing it one step away, one place away in fact, from the Premier League.

Currently the second highest goal scorer in Europe – or more specifically across the top two divisions in the five leading European leagues – only Lionel Messi has found the net more often than Murray this season.

It is a statistic that has reportedly piqued the interest of England manager Roy Hodgson; and one that has no doubt been noticed by a Premier League club or two.

His current team will hope he continues to excel under the radar and that the likes of Charlie Austin and Matej Vydra carry on being thrown into the annual rumour mill ahead of him.

Many players in the past have had that one great season. Maybe this is Murray’s. Or maybe next year the Eagles will show that you don’t need wonder-kids to have a shot in the Premier League. Sometimes you just need a bloke who knows where the goal is.

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