Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman is poised to endure a busy summer of work at the Stadium of Light at the end of the season.
Irrespective of what division the Black Cats are competing in next term, he will be tasked with putting together a squad for Alex Neil to work with – either to stay in the Championship or fight for promotion out of League One.
Speakman will also need to keep hold of the club’s talented young players to give Neil a pool of academy prospects to nurture with a view to them making their way through to the first team in the future.
One such gem who they are in danger of losing is 14-year-old Chris Rigg as Newcastle and Everton are reportedly keen on a deal for him this summer.
They must now avoid repeating the brutal disasterclass they endured when they sold teenager Joe Hugill to Manchester United for £300k. The striker has since been compared to England captain Harry Kane and is progressing through the ranks at Old Trafford.
Sky Sports News reporter James Cooper said this about the youngster: “Joe Hugill’s progress has come as a pleasant surprise to the coaching staff at Manchester United who recognised his potential when they brought him in from Sunderland.
“But the speed of that progress has exceeded expectations, bearing in mind he’s only been at the club for three months.
“Hugill was part of a recruitment drive that has seen some of Europe’s best young talent arrive at Manchester United in recent weeks to not only bolster the club’s Academy but also provide Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with more options further down the line.”
These quotes and the comparisons to Kane suggest that Sunderland dropped a clanger by allowing him to leave for £300k.
Speakman must now ensure that they do not repeat that mistake with Rigg. He cannot allow the talented youngster to leave the Stadium of Light and must do everything in his power to convince the teenager that staying at the club is the best option for him.
Sunderland fans do not want to be sat on their sofas in six years watching Rigg dominating in the Premier League and wondering how they only got £1m for him in 2022.