Sunderland could strike gold as they are reportedly set to pursue a deal for 22-year-old Chelsea goalkeeper Nathan Baxter.
According to Football Insider, Sunderland are set to make a move to sign Baxter from Chelsea after his impressive spell on loan to Accrington Stanley during the 2020/21 campaign. The report claims Sunderland are in the market for a goalkeeper to challenge Lee Burge for the number one shirt, with the 28-year-old recently signing a one-year contract extension with the club.
Sunderland are said to be open to signing Baxter on loan or on a permanent basis. He is contracted to Chelsea until 2023 and the report does not outline the Premier League club’s thoughts over Baxter’s long-term future amid interest from the Black Cats.
“He has trained with top-class players at Chelsea, it’s now a big test for him. He has had a couple of loan spells, this is the highest level he has played at in England.
“They have high hopes for him at Chelsea and I have got high hopes for him. Everyone who I have spoke to who has managed him have given me glowing reports.”
Sunderland could strike gold if they are able to land Baxter on a permanent basis. The report has not closed the door on the club signing Baxter to a long-term deal instead of just on a temporary one-season loan, which could be a coup for Lee Johnson’s side.
Baxter has proven himself at League One level after keeping seven clean sheets in 16 starts for Accrington, conceding 14 times. This shows that he is currently performing to the standard Sunderland require heading into next season as they prepare for a promotion push.
The £3k-per-week shot-stopper could offer significant competition to Burge after Remi Matthews failed to take his chance to impress. Sunderland signed Matthews on a one-year deal last summer and the former Norwich man struggled in his five starts for the club, averaging a dismal WhoScored rating of 6.41 as he failed to keep a single clean sheet in League One. He is now set to leave the club on a free transfer at the end of the month, vacating a space for Baxter to fill.
Baxter’s real value for Sunderland, though, could be in his potential. Burge turns 29 next season and may not be Johnson’s number one as part of the long-term planning, whereas Baxter turns 23 in November and has many years ahead of him to develop as a player.
This means that Sunderland could strike gold by bringing Baxter in as he is a proven League One performer with the right age profile to continue to improve, which could lead to him being the club’s first-choice for years to come.