Will Darren Bent be replaced at Stadium Of Light?
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It has been a great season on Wearside for Sunderland fans – but the departure of their star striker Darren Bent has sullied matters somewhat.
Still, there are signs that the Black Cats could continue to prosper – not least away wins against Chelsea and Blackpool, both of which were achieved without Bent in the starting XI.
Asamoah Gyan certainly looks the part to fill Bent’s goalscoring boots, but the idea was always to have more than one prolific goalscorer at the Stadium Of Light – and Bruce has already said he is on the lookout for reinforcements.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce probably didn’t imagine that he was going to have to find a replacement for Darren Bent in the January transfer window, but with the England forward having departed for Aston Villa and fellow striker Danny Welbeck out for up to two months, increasing the Black Cats’ firepower has to be a top priority.
Still, at least Fraizer Campbell will be back in the next few weeks from his cruciate knee ligament injury, though he will need gradual rehabilitation, and how strong he will be upon his return remains to be seen.
Here are ten potential transfer targets reported in the media recently for the January transfer window and beyond.
1. Ricardo Fuller
Sunderland’s interest in Stoke City striker Ricardo Fuller is clear – Steve Bruce has stated his intention to sign him publicly.
He is believed to have launched a £3m bid for the 31 year-old Jamaican forward, who has scored 42 goals in 160 appearances for Stoke.
With the Potters having just signed John Carew on loan, Fuller’s prospects of regular first team football have substantially diminished, and both he and Tony Pulis are likely to be open to the idea of a permanent transfer.
Fuller is 6’3″ and his pace and skill making him a real handful for opposition defences.
2. Roman Pavlyuchenko
An alternative option up front for Sunderland would be Roman Pavlyuchenko, who has flattered to deceive and proven brilliant for Tottenham Hotspur in equal measure.
The Russian would hardly be put off by weather conditions in the North East given his country of origin, and though Spurs offered him a new contract it would seem that both the player and his current manager could well agree to a move.
“The contract offer doesn’t suit me,” said Pavlyuchenko. “And there are rumours: [Emmanuel] Adebayor is coming to us, then [Andy] Carroll from Newcastle.
“If it proves true, I’m not satisfied with being fourth or fifth choice. I don’t want to go back to sitting on the bench.”
Redknapp acceded, stating that a good offer could result in the striker departing White Hart Lane.
“I don’t want to sell Pav but if someone made the right offer and he wanted to move, I am sure it is something that the club will look at,” said the Tottenham manager.
3. Michael Owen
Michael Owen is certainly a proven goalscorer.
He has scored at the top level for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United and Manchester United, when given the chance, as well as for England on 40 occasions.
However, one side on that list stands out: Newcastle.
Though Owen has proven he can overcome club rivalries by playing for Man Utd after turning out for Liverpool, the fans at Old Trafford have largely been indifferent to his signing due to his inability to secure a first team berth.
Sunderland fans are less likely to welcome the former Magpie to the Stadium Of Light, due to 71 appearances for Newcastle United (which included a brace against Sunderland in April 2008).
That didn’t stop the Daily Mirror linking the player earlier this month, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for this one.
4. Cedric Bakambu
19 year-old French striker Cedric Bakambu is a very bright prospect indeed, but a handful of first team appearances at senior level do not indicate he would be the immediate solution perhaps Sunderland are looking for.
With patience though, the young forward could very well get goals, and his performances in the 2010 European Championships – which France won – certainly made a few clubs sit up and take notice.
A rumoured price tag of £650,000 means there would be little risk in his transfer.
5. Dieumerci Mbokani
AS Monaco forward Dieumerci Mbokani has scored just 1 goal in 11 appearances for his club this season after signing in the summer, and if rumours linking Monaco to Emmanuel Adebayor have any truth in them, he will soon slip further down the pecking order.
That scenario makes a cut-price move to Sunderland appear more likely, and if he could return to the goalscoring form he achieved at Standard Liege of 35 goals in 81 games, he would be a quality partner for Asamoah Gyan up front.
6. Hugo Rodallega
Wigan Athletic striker Hugo Rodallega has two and a half seasons Premier League experience now, and in a struggling side has scored 19 goals in that time.
The Colombian has played a number of his games on the left wing too under Latics manager Roberto Martinez, and his delivery from corners and free kicks cannot be underestimated.
To make the step to the furthest left forward in a front three would be a natural progression, and he already has a relationship with Steve Bruce from their time at Wigan.
7. Sulley Muntari
Sulley Muntari also has Premier League experience, and the Ghana international midfielder is set to depart Inter Milan after handing in an official transfer request.
At the front of the queue are Sunderland, if reports are to be believed.
“If everything is sorted out with Sunderland he will be going there,” said his agent Fabien Piveteau in the Sun.
“The other Ghana players at Sunderland – Asamoah Gyan and John Mensah – have told him about the club which has obviously played a part.”
His time at Portsmouth proved he was a force driving from midfield, and is capable of magnificently powerful shots from long range.
A loan move with a view to a permanent transfer at the end of the season appears the most likely option for the Black Cats.
8. Adam Johnson
A signing to excite the crowds at the Stadium Of Light would be Manchester City winger Adam Johnson.
The 23 year-old was born in Sunderland, and according to the Daily Mail could make a sensational homecoming to the club he supports due to an inability to secure a regular place in the Man City side.
Blessed with pace, skill and a thunderous left foot, Johnson would be a great attacking outlet on the right hand side of the Sunderland attack.
Though he could cost around £11m, there is money to spend due to Darren Bent’s lucrative sale.
9. Nedum Onuoha
Another Manchester City player linked with the Black Cats is defender Nedum Onuoha, who is already on loan at the Stadium Of Light.
Onuoha has slotted into Sunderland’s defence admirably, and while he is capable of playing both at centre back and right back, his skill on the ball cannot be overlooked.
The Englishman scored a quite astonishing solo goal against Chelsea, and has certainly proven his worth to the fans.
A permanent transfer would certainly be considered by Manchester City, but the clubs are yet to agree a fee.
10. Stephane Sessegnon
Benin international playmaker Stephane Sessegnon has attracted the attention of several clubs this transfer window, as the outspoken midfielder has fallen out with Paris St-Germain manager Antoine Kombouare.
Sunderland have reportedly had a £4.5m bid accepted for the player, and Steve Bruce appears excited at the prospect of his arrival.
“Stephane can play in the middle, out wide or in a front three and he is a good player,” he told the club’s official website.
“It is ongoing but it has been going on for a couple of weeks now. We’re hopeful of getting something done.”
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