Back

Transfer talks and Cattermole contract are promising signs for Sunderland

Back in March, struggling Sunderland (5/1 with Coral for a top 10 finish) went a stretch of eight games across all competitions without a win, and with the Premier League trap door looming, things looked bleak for the Black Cats.

Fast forward a few months and the Wearside team, assured of top flight status for another term, have secured Dutch coach Dick Advocaat for at least one more season, and are illustrating real ambition in the summer transfer window. Things certainly seem to be on the up at the Stadium of Light.

With experienced Advocaat at the helm, the Black Cats mean business, and seem to have acquired significant pulling power thanks to their new dugout star, or at the very least requisite potential to see top talents arrive in the Northeast.

Suddenly the club seems an attractive prospect again. What a difference a fresh face and a handful of results can make. Sunderland have already started the summer in style, having captured defender Sebastian Coates on a permanent deal from Liverpool.

The Stadium of Light side have also secured midfield general Lee Cattermole on a new five-year contract, with the deal meaning that the Mackems’ driving force in midfield will stay put until 2021.

While it was unlikely that aggressive and courageous Cattermole was going to up sticks, Sunderland’s extension of the 27-year-old’s deal is a statement of stability, and should send confidence through the club that, while there may be an overhaul of sorts this summer, those who stood up to be counted will not be forgotten.

Able to drag the Black Cats (2/1 to be relegated) through tough games with sheer determination, Cattermole needs a strong spine around him, and Advocaat looks to be striving to add just that.

The latest reports suggest Sunderland are engaging in transfer talks for talented duo Nicolas Lombaerts and Jeremain Lens, who would both be significant coups should the Northeast outfit pull those signings off.

Belgium and Zenit St Petersburg centre half Lombaerts is an ideal, cultured and experienced, replacement for the brittle backline old guard of former Manchester United pair John O’Shea and Wes Brown. While both could be useful squad players, new blood is badly needed to refresh defensive ranks and patch-up a side that often leaked goals last season.

Advocaat’s continental connections appear key here, while apparent interest in Dutch dangerman Lens of Dynamo Kiev also seems to have his hand-prints all over it. Lens hit nine across all competitions last campaign, and the flexible forward, able to play up top or out wide, would provide depth and guile to a squad boasting a gaggle of finishers but few true top-draw playmakers.

The Wearsiders do seem set on adding flair to their midfield, as links to West Ham United and England attacking midfielder Stewart Downing continue to linger, while the Black Cats could also put rivals Newcastle United’s nose out of joint by beating them to Chelsea-owned box-to-box midfielder Marco van Ginkel – Advocaat’s compatriot.

Soccer - Pre-Season Friendly - Vitesse Arnhem v Chelsea - Gelredome

The dynamic Dutchman would be just the type of player to impress the Stadium of Light support should he recapture his pre-injury form, as Advocaat seeks to add a little Clockwork Orange quality to his roster.

Sunderland seem to have a lot on their plate at the moment then, and should just a handful of these signings come to fruition, the Black Cats can begin to think about a higher finish rather than a relegation scrap for the upcoming season.