July 15, 2024

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Sunderland players who have saved the club millions in transfer fees during this summer’s window

Sunderland are still looking to strengthen in this summer’s transfer market – but have already saved millions by promoting and signing younger players in recent years.

Sunderland have already signed four new players this summer – and are still looking to strengthen before the end of the transfer window.

Sunderland have already signed four new players this summer – and are still looking to strengthen before the end of the transfer window.

But while their squad appears short in the striker and goalkeeper departments, the Black Cats appear to be in relatively good shape ahead of the 2023/24 Championship campaign.

The club’s approach to sign younger players for often smaller fees and promote academy graduates has paid off over the past few years.

It means some gaps in the squad have already been filled, while reducing the club’s transfer outlay.

Here are five players who have saved the club millions in the transfer market:

When Sunderland won promotion from League One a year ago, there was a decision to be made about whether they wanted to sign a more experienced goalkeeper.

Patterson had only returned from a loan spell at Notts County, playing in the National League, a few months earlier and had limited experience in the Black Cats’ first team.

The decision to back the academy graduate has proved to be a significant one, with the 23-year-old impressing during his first season in the Championship.

As former Sunderland goalkeeper coach David Preece told the Echo, Premier League clubs have already been tracking Patterson’s progress and making inquiries.

The young stopper has clearly worked on his distribution and decision making when coming for crosses, while his level-headed approach has impressed many within the game.

It could still be argued Sunderland should try and sign an experienced holding midfielder this summer, with captain Corry Evans set to miss the start of the season as he recovers from an ACL injury.

Yet Neil’s ability to move into a deeper midfield position means the Black Cats’ squad doesn’t look as unbalanced as it did six months ago – when Evans suffered the setback.

While the 21-year-old has found the role challenging at times, his ability to adapt in a short period of time has been impressive.

Neil also showed signs of forming an effective midfield partnership with Pierre Ekwah at the end of last season, and displayed his faith in the club by signing a new contract in March.

Whether the academy graduate is eventually moved back into a more advanced midfield position this season remains to be seen, yet his ability to play in different roles is a big asset.

Pierre Ekwah

The Long Read: Pierre Ekwah | West Ham United F.C.

Ekwah’s form at the end of last season, albeit for a small number of games, was hugely impressive.

The 21-year-old appears to have all the attributes to become a regular starter for Sunderland during the upcoming campaign, with a fine passing range and ability to drive forward in possession.

Ekwah’s performances last term, particularly against Preston and in the play-off first leg against Luton, made West Ham’s decision to let him leave in January look a very peculiar one – especially when Sunderland’s expenditure was minimal.

It’s even been suggested the Black Cats didn’t have to pay a fee up front, with West Ham only agreeing a sell-on fee for the midfielder.

It certainly looks like a great piece of business from Sunderland’s perspective.

Dennis Cirkin

Sunderland took a chance on Cirkin when they were battling to win promotion from League One at the fourth attempt.

The left-back was only 19 when he signed for the Black Cats from Tottenham in 2021, with no senior appearances under his belt.

It was suggested Cirkin cost Sunderland around £1million, while his value has certainly increased significantly over the past two seasons.

After playing a key part in the Black Cats’ promotion to the Championship, the full-back has shown he can step up to the second tier.

While Cirkin suffered multiple unfortunate injury setbacks last season, Sunderland have a player who possesses plenty of energy and technical ability down the left flank, who is comfortable in a back four or back three.

The Black Cats are also in a strong position if the defender attracts more interest from Premier League clubs, after Cirkin signed a new deal this summer until 2026.

Sunderland should have strong competition at full-back when Aji Alese returns from injury, while Niall Huggins has performed well in pre-season so far.

Cirkin is yet to feature this summer following an ankle issue he suffered at the end of last season but is expected to be available for Sunderland’s Championship opener against Ipswich.

Trai Hume

Sunderland are also in a strong position on the right side of defence following the emergence of Hume last term.

The 21-year-old had to wait for his first-team opportunities after moving to Wearside from Northern Irish club Linfield for a fee believed to be around £200,000.

Lynden Gooch’s strong start to last season meant Hume hardly featured until the turn of the year, yet he soon established himself as a regular starter for Tony Mowbray’s side.

By the end of the campaign Hume was one of the first names on the Sunderland team sheet, making tough tackles, demonstrating composure in possession and switching positions seamlessly.

The 21-year-old was even asked to play as a centre-back due to a raft of defensive injuries during the Black Cats’ late play-off push.

Hume’s form has earned him more recognition at international level, where he’s started two consecutive Euro 2024 qualifiers for Northern Ireland.

The full-back also signed a new contract, which will run until 2027, with Sunderland this summer and looks set to start the season as the club’s first-choice right-back.

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