Sunderland chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus must complete a swoop to sign Scunthorpe midfielder Alex Gilliead this summer to bolster Lee Johnson’s squad.
According to Football League World, Sunderland are among a number of clubs exploring a deal to sign Gilliead from Scunthorpe this summer. The report claims that Championship duo Huddersfield and Coventry are in talks with the 25-year-old, whilst Ipswich and Sunderland are also interested in the former Newcastle midfielder.
Gilliead is out of contract at the end of the month and is expected to leave Scunthorpe on a free transfer after opting against signing an extension with the club. Huddersfield, Coventry, Sunderland and Ipswich have all reacted to this situation and are attempting to reach an agreement with the 25-year-old.
Earlier in his career, Luton Town manager Nathan Jones lavished praise on the midfielder, who he labelled a “wonderful” player during his loan spell with Luton and backed him to become a Premier League player.
The 48-year-old told Luton Today: “He’s a thoroughbred and I genuinely believe he will become a Premier League player. We know how good Alex Gilliead is, I know what he can do in possession.
“He’s a wonderful, wonderful player and is starting to prove that now. He’s had to be patient, he hasn’t wanted to be patient because he came here to play, but providing he keeps at the level he is, he will.”
Louis-Dreyfus needs to get a deal over the line for Gilliead to strengthen Lee Johnson’s squad ahead of the 2021/22 League One campaign. Sunderland have a chance to bring in a quality addition for nothing due to his contract situation, and they need to take advantage of this opportunity to improve their squad without paying a transfer fee for the Scunthorpe ace.
Gilliead enjoyed an excellent season in League Two on a personal note. He averaged a WhoScored rating of 6.82 across 43 starts in the league, whilst playing in a variety of different roles for Neil Cox’s side. He played in central, attacking, right and left midfield as well as right wing-back throughout the campaign, showing off his impressive versatility – all whilst keeping up an average WhoScored rating of 6.82. This shows that he is adaptable and could operate in Johnson’s side in a multitude of ways, offering the former Bristol City boss more flexibility in his tactical setup.
The £2,500-per-week utility man particularly impressed during his spell in central midfield during the season. Gilliead started nine games as an orthodox central midfielder and averaged a superb WhoScored rating of 7.06 for Scunthorpe, scoring once and assisting one goal. The defensive side of his game excelled in that role, averaging 3.6 tackles and interceptions per game in League Two.
For context, Grant Leadbitter posted 2.7 tackles and interceptions per game in midfield for Sunderland in League One and averaged a WhoScored rating of 6.80. This suggests that Gilliead could prove to be an upgrade this summer, with Leadbitter set to leave the club on a free transfer at the end of the month.
He could come in and take the veteran’s place in central midfield and use his tough-tackling to firm up the spine of Johnson’s side.