AFTER a week where long standing issues with Sunderland’s ownership structure were resolved and several players renewed their contracts, manager Alex Neil has hinted that the club are set for a busy summer in the transfer window with the majority of his time being spent on recruitment. 

In the weeks since Sunderland’s promotion, the club has been rubber stamping it’s plans and budgets for the forthcoming Championship campaign. However, questions needed to be answered as Charlie Methven and Stewart Donald were attempting to sell their shares of the club. Recently, a combination of owner Kyril Louis Dreyfus and Juan Sartori purchased 81% of the club completely buying out Methven whilst Donald owns the remaining 19%. 

With the ownership structure now under Louis-Dreyfus’ majority rule, the Black Cats can now put more resources towards recruitment and fully utilise budgets for the forthcoming season. 

Following the departure of a number of first-team players after the end of their contracts along with loan players returning to their parent clubs, Sunderland have considerable gaps to fill in the squad ahead of their opening game of the season against Coventry City in just over a month’s time.  

Neil said: “At the moment, a lot of my time is spent on recruitment because we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a big job on our hands in terms of getting ourselves prepared and ready for this season. A lot of time is dedicated to that.” 

With Ross Stewart being the club’s lone striker, it’s expected that the Black Cats will be looking to enhance their attacking department in the coming weeks. The club have opened talks with Everton over the possibility of re-signing Nathan Broadhead after scoring 13 goals in 27 appearances on Wearside last season. He currently has one year left on his contract with the Toffees.  

Elsewhere, after making an enquiry about Tottenham Hotspur striker Troy Parrott, the club were knocked back as the 20-year-old declared a desire to prove himself with Antonio Conte's side over the pre-season schedule. 

Sunderland have made breakthroughs in renewing deals for out-of-contract players with Lynden Gooch and Patrick Roberts both committing their futures to the club with fresh two-year deals.  

Gooch, the club’s longest serving player, was attracting interest from Championship side Swansea City but has continued his stay in the first-team while Roberts makes his stay permanent following a six-month stay where he played a vital role in the club’s promotion from League One.  

The Northern Echo: Sunderland winger Lynden Gooch with the League One play-off final trophy.Sunderland winger Lynden Gooch with the League One play-off final trophy.

Defender Bailey Wright is yet to put pen-to-paper but has been given extra time off after being on international duty with Australia. The players returned for pre-season training last week. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Anthony Patterson signed a new four-year contract after playing a starring role between the sticks in the second half of last season.  

The Sunderland boss admitted Gooch’s signature will help when bringing in new players to the club. “I think it’s vitally important (to have) people who do know the club” said Neil.  

“We currently have a lot of bodies to recruit for this season so it’s vitally important that when they do come in the building, there are guys there that know what this club is about. That know how you need to adapt, what the fanbase is going to bring for us as a team and all the bits in between.  

“I think it’s important that you’ve got guys who are Sunderland through and through and the fabric of the club goes right from the top to the bottom. At every club, you will have people who have been there ten or fifteen years and what you want to do is make those people, whether it’s the cleaner or Goochy in the first-team, make them feel included in what we are trying to do. Because we’re only going to achieve success if we are all pulling the one way together. 

“For Goochy in terms of his contribution since I’ve been here, that’s the only thing that I can judge him on which was very good. Albeit in my first game, I don’t think I even put him in the team. He, on merit, worked his way into the team and was vitally important in some of the crucial games we had at the end of the season.” 

Whilst Neil, Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman and the club’s recruitment staff are gearing efforts towards bringing new players to the club, Sunderland will be heading abroad next week for a week long pre-season training camp in Portugal.