With just under five weeks until the January transfer window opens, it will be all hands at the pump for Sunderland.
Will Stewart Donald be the man in charge of the operations or will it be Juan Sartori and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, the club’s prospective new owners?
Well, Sunderland are currently locked in negotiations about the sale of the club.
It was reported by The Guardian two weeks ago that Donald had accepted a bid from a consortium led by Sartori in order to sell his majority stake.
Now, with that in mind, Sunderland supporters will be eager to discover where the club could operate in the transfer market.
Of course, the EFL’s salary cap will mean money can’t be spent instantly or as powerfully as the new owners may like, but we have received a small glimpse into where they could bring new faces from.
That comes courtesy of Eric Devin at Get French Football who told the Sunderland Echo this week:
“Perhaps he [Dreyfus] has established networks in France – I know we’ve seen through the likes of Brentford that French players can come and make a splash.”
Devin added: “So perhaps he is looking at using those networks to scout players from the Championnat and Ligue 2. He may want to challenge himself to establish the club in that way and it seems an interesting choice.”
It’s natural for Dreyfus to start assessing the French market first because that’s where his beloved Marseille are located. If he’s going to be an expert on any part of football, then it’ll be in his homeland.
But what does targeting the French market all mean?
You only need to look at how players who previously plied their trade in that part of the world got on at Sunderland to understand how they could fare.
The club’s record signing Didier Ndong was at Lorient in Ligue 1 before signing for a fee of £13.6m. He didn’t exactly set the world alight in the north-east, finding himself part of the squad that was relegated in 2016.
Ndong was fierce in the tackle, completing 2.9 challenges a match in the Championship but left the Stadium of Light behind after making just 54 appearances. Considering the back to back relegations he was part of, the midfielder was a gigantic waste of money under the Ellis Short ownership.
Similarly, Lamine Kone was also signed from Lorient. The defender was part of two Premier League seasons but like Ndong, found himself being relegated in successive years.
Ndong and Kone had the chance to form the spine of Sunderland’s XI but ended up being incredibly divisive figures at the club, ultimately failing.
If Dreyfus is going to target the French market, he needs to find a different sort of character to the aforementioned duo.