The summer transfer window is officially open and Sunderland will now be hard at work as they look to build a squad capable of competing in the Championship.
Alex Neil and Kristjaan Speakman are now tasked with finding players to bolster the squad to ensure that they do not go straight back down to the third tier at the first time of asking.
The Black Cats have already been linked with a number of players since they beat Wycombe 2-0 at Wembley in the play-off final and one of the gems they reportedly want to bring in is Josh Murphy on a free transfer.
He has left the Welsh club upon the expiry of his contract this summer, having joined them for £11m in 2018, and Neil is now looking to add him to his squad for the 2022/23 campaign.
If the Scottish head coach can get Murphy back to the form he showed when the pair worked together at Norwich then he will be able to form a deadly partnership with Ross Stewart next season.
Whilst in charge at Carrow Road, Neil hailed the forward’s talents as he said: “He’s got blistering pace, he’s got real athleticism and he’s a goal threat in pretty much every minute of the game. Those types of players are rare and hopefully he can become a first-team regular.”
In the 2016/17 campaign, Murphy produced four goals and five assists in nine Championship starts with the now-Sunderland boss at the helm. This shows that the ex-Preston manager knows how to get the best out of him and that the player will know what he expects from his attackers from a tactical point of view.
The winger also enjoyed an excellent season the following year as he managed seven goals and three assists – creating nine ‘big chances’ in the Championship for Norwich as he showcased his attacking quality in the final third.
Therefore, it may not take the 27-year-old long to settle in because of his pre-existing relationship with Neil and his experience in the second tier.
Now, imagine him supplying Stewart – who scored 26 goals in League One – with crosses and through balls next season. The Scotland international was lethal in the third division and will now need to prove himself at a higher level, which could be helped by Murphy’s proven ability to create clear-cut chances.
Stewart can thrive off his balls into the box and enjoy playing alongside the winger and that is why Sunderland must sign the ex-Norwich attacker to see if Neil can get him back to his best.