Kaboul capture can be seismic shift for shaky Sunderland defence
“He wouldn’t join Sunderland even if there was an earthquake,” Younes Kaboul’s agent once said back in 2008. Black Cats supporters were checking the Richter Scale on Thursday night when the former Spurs skipper signed a four-year contract at the Stadium of Light, but there wasn’t so much as a tremor.
It would be naive to think Kaboul was Sunderland’s first-choice target, after Dick Advocaat was linked with compatriot Virgil van Dijk and Belgium international Nicolas Lombaerts to strengthen his defence, yet he’s moved to Wearside once again looking to rebuild his career and is not without merit.
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) July 16, 2015
At first glance, adding a player with almost 150 Premier League appearances to his name should help the Black Cats in their bid to avoid relegation once again – a battle they are 15/8 with Coral to lose this time round.
Kaboul’s fitness record is poor, however, as those outings have come across eight seasons and average of just 18-19 league games per campaign. Cynics rightly say missing half a term through injury isn’t going to increase Sunderland’s strength in depth.
The same can be said of another Advocaat summer signing Sebastian Coates, who moved to the northeast permanently following a loan spell. Formerly of Liverpool, the rangy Uruguay international sustained a serious knee injury that wrecked his Anfield career.
Everyone at the Black Cats will be hoping Coates and Kaboul will have better luck at the Stadium of Light, though veteran Wes Brown and Republic of Ireland centurion John O’Shea are still on the books.
Forward-thinking arrivals Adam Matthews and Jeremain Lens may have more about them to excite the Sunderland public, but defensive signings have been perceived as a real priority as well.
Among the lowest Premier League scorers in 2014/15 with 31 goals, the Black Cats backline was also breached 51 times with eight going in during a calamitous display down at Southampton.
Yet that number conceded was by far from the worst in the division, though the need for numbers in the defensive department has been painfully obvious since Paolo Di Canio’s short but sweet stint in charge.
Sunderland are odds-on at 4/11 to stay up and, provided he can prove his fitness, Kaboul can contribute plenty to the cause. His five caps for France is a reflection of an injury-hit career rather than a lack of attributes.
Harry Redknapp signed Kaboul twice, first for Portsmouth and then took him back to Tottenham, and ran down what the player offers at his best upon his White Hart Lane return. “His heading is excellent, he is quick, he can pass the ball,” Redknapp said of Kaboul.
An all-round defender, whose turn of pace admittedly may no longer be what it once was, Kaboul stepping out in possession should complement 6th 5in Coates nicely.