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Sunderland: Imagine Bali Mumba in Tony Mowbray’s team

Sunderland have a talented crop of young players in and around the first-team set up this season and the future is looking bright at the Stadium of Light.

The likes of Daniel Neil, Edouard Michut, Jewison Bennette, Anthony Patterson, and Jack Clarke are all up-and-coming players who will be hoping to fulfil their potential in the years to come.

However, the Black Cats have not always had the best of luck with promising young gems. One player who left before he could make his mark in the first team was wing-back Bali Mumba and that is a shame, in hindsight, as he would be perfect for Tony Mowbray in 2022.

During the 2018/19 campaign, then-manager Jack Ross played the academy product in four League One matches and named him in the starting line-up twice after seemingly being impressed by his displays in the youth side.

The Scottish boss was the first head coach to hand the dynamo a league start, as he had only played three minutes of Championship action prior to that season.

However, Phil Parkinson then arrived in the dugout to replace Ross and did not hand the youngster a single appearance in the first team during the 2019/20 campaign, which led to the gem’s exit from Wearside.

He was sold to Championship side Norwich City for a reported fee of £350k, as he entered the final year of his contract at the Stadium of Light, in the summer of 2020.

Was Mumba worth more than £350k?





Mumba won the second division title with the Canaries and made one appearance in the Premier League the following campaign before being loaned out to Peterborough, where he played 13 times.

The full-back, who journalist Josh Bunting dubbed “magnificent” was then sent out on loan to Plymouth Argyle in League One this season and he has been in terrific form for the club so far, averaging a SofaScore rating of 7.01 across 17 appearances.

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Sunderland striker Ross Stewart in action

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For reference, that is a higher rating than current full-back/wing-backs Lynden Gooch (6.77), Dennis Cirkin (6.76), Trai Hume (6.73), and Niall Huggins (6.70) managed in the third tier for the Black Cats last season.

Mumba has racked up three goals and seven assists in his 17 league outings for Plymouth as he has caught the eye whilst playing as a left wing-back, although he is also capable of playing on either flank in a back four or five, and can play in central midfield.

Therefore, the 21-year-old, who has been described as a “baller” by Yannick Bolasie, would be brilliant for Mowbray in the current Championship season.

The Sunderland head coach has switched between a four and five-back formation throughout the campaign and Mumba’s versatility, along with the outstanding quality he has shown ahead of the current options in those areas, make him a perfect fit for a dynamic tactical set-up.

What could have been…