I've already gone on record in thinking that NUFC are among the mid-table clubs that have done very well for themselves thus far. They've gone from highly volatile and a bit long in the tooth to more solid if perhaps a little less potentially spectacular. West Brom has quietly solidified themselves in the back with some solid acquisitions as well. That brings us to Sunderland who have stepped up the pace dramatically in the last ten days with three (relatively) high profile signings in Connor Wickham, Seb Larsson, and Craig Gardner to go along with depth in Keiran Westwood and my new favorite Premier League player "Bishop Magic" Dong-won.
So, how to the new signings look? First of all, I really like the Wickham move. Here's my logic:
- Player: I think he'll be a very good one based on my limited exposure to him. My sense is that his downside is productive James Beattie that we've seen in stretches and that's better than any of Sunderland's alternatives as a second forward to complement Gyan.
- Need: Sunderland need forwards desperately after selling off DBent and he is one.
- Fit: With the addition of Larsson, they sort of needed someone to be on the other end of crosses and Gyan certainly isn't that guy.
- Price: While £8M (potentially rising to £13M) isn't chump change my bet is that he's a great investment. If you agree that his downside as an irrationally over-valued English target man is the money paid for Peter Crouch (£11M and £10M in two separate moves in the pre-Ronaldo-to-Madrid world which would probably look like £15M to £18M if those moves happened this off-season. His upside as a financial (and playing) asset is Andy Carroll's £35M fee without the attitude problem.
- Overall Analysis: My guess is he's an English Bendtner without the massive ego (at least not yet) which means that he'll be fairly productive and could eventually be sold for about double his purchase price if not more.