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Sunderland: Kristjaan Speakman dodged bullet with Matthew Hoppe

Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman was a busy man throughout the summer transfer window as he brought a number of players into the Stadium of Light.

He signed the likes of Daniel Ballard, Ellis Simms, Jack Clarke, Edouard Michut and Aji Alese, among others, to bolster the squad ahead of the 2022/23 Championship campaign.

What may go unnoticed, or unappreciated, during a transfer window is the big decisions Speakman has to make over which players to pursue on the list of targets provided by the scouts.

For example, one player the club opted against a deal for was American international Matthew Hoppe. The Black Cats were reportedly keen on a swoop for the then-Mallorca forward but they never took their interest any further and Middlesbrough ended up signing him.

He signed a permanent four-year contract with Sunderland’s Championship rivals for an initial fee of £3m, which could reach £5m if add-ons are reached.

Former Boro boss Chris Wilder admitted that he was a player who the club had brought in with one eye on the future but also claimed that the opportunity was there for him to burst into the first team this season.

Did Speakman do a good job in the summer?

Yes

Yes

No

No

However, the striker has not impressed enough to force his way into the senior side on a regular basis. He has played 35 minutes of Championship football across three appearances, after playing five times in La Liga for Mallorca last season and 22 games in the Bundesliga for Schalke the year prior to that.

American insider Matt Stepp dubbed him “brash and arrogant“, whilst adding that teams need that sometimes. However, the attacker’s mentality has not helped him out on the pitch as of yet.

The 21-year-old has plenty of experience at the top level, including scoring six goals in 26 games for Schalke, but that has not translated into him making an impact in the second tier of English football, despite Boro sitting 20th in the table.

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Sunderland striker Ross Stewart in action

Starting off easy... who was Sunderland's top scorer in 2021/22?

You could use his age as a reason behind his struggles but he joined Middlesbrough for a hefty sum of money and Josh Sargent, who is his compatriot and elder by one year, is the joint-top scorer in the Championship with eight goals for Norwich City.

For the money spent on him and the games that he has played in the top divisions of Spanish and German football, supporters could be excused for expecting Hoppe to score goals in the second division in England. However, he cannot even get his name in the starting XI.

This suggests that Speakman dodged an expensive flop by avoiding a deal for Hoppe. Transfermarkt have Will Grigg down as the only player the club have spent £3m or more on since the start of 2018/19 and this suggests that spending £3m on a player who seemingly does not have the quality or consistency to make an instant impact would have been a huge mistake, given the finances involved.

Article title: Sunderland: Kristjaan Speakman dodged bullet with Matthew Hoppe

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