KRISTJAAN SPEAKMAN has conceded that Sunderland are extremely unlikely to be able to re-sign Amad Diallo this summer.

Amad enjoyed a hugely successful loan spell on Wearside last season, scoring 14 goals in all competitions as the Black Cats made the play-off semi-finals.

He has returned to Manchester United following the end of his loan agreement, and is set to be handed an opportunity to stake his claims for a place in Erik ten Hag’s first-team squad during the forthcoming pre-season programme.

If ten Hag decides the 20-year-old is not ready for regular action in the Premier League next season, there is a good chance he will be sent out on another loan move, with Sunderland understandably keen to offer him a second spell at the Stadium of Light.

Amad has suggested he would be willing to consider a return to Wearside, and has spoken effusively about how much he enjoys working with Black Cats head coach Tony Mowbray, but Speakman has sought to play down the likelihood of a deal being agreed.

“I’m so happy Amad sat in here at the end of the season with me and Tony and had a vibrant smile on his face,” said Sunderland’s sporting director. “He loved it. Naturally, that’s what we want.

“Can Amad return to Sunderland? I don’t think so. He should be playing in tier one, in England, La Liga, Bundesliga, wherever. That’s the level of player he is. The staff here, the players and supporters have helped him get back on that journey and hopefully that will attract more players to want to come to Sunderland.”

Speakman has overseen the signing of four players already this summer, with Nectarios Triantis, Jenson Seelt, Jobe Bellingham and Luis Semedo all having agreed deals with the Black Cats.


All four have fitted the profile of young, relatively unproven players, with the potential to be developed and improved, that Sunderland are looking to follow under Speakman and majority owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus.

The Black Cats boasted the youngest squad in the Championship last season, and are likely to be every bit as youthful this term, with Speakman confident the club are adopting a long-term strategic approach that should also be capable of delivering positive results in the here and now.

“We’re trying to be planned,” he said, in an interview with The Athletic. “Some of the signings this summer have not been easy to make. You have to be extremely well-organised to convince players that this is the place to come.

“The summer signings are four years-plus, three have signed for five years. You’re asking for a huge commitment both ways.

The Northern Echo:

“The danger is that when anyone talks about long term, it’s a paradox with ambition. Our ambition is always to put out the strongest team in any given season, but we understand this season is part of a tranche of seasons.

We’re not going to discount any season in that process, but the question around whether the club is ‘having a go’, is it ambitious, we can’t just look at transfer expenditure. We believe that having a go is having a clear strategy, really good recruitment and coaching – and our net transfer expenditure has been high, third or fourth in the division last season.”

At some stage, Sunderland’s model will have to involve moving players on at a profit, and Speakman does not shy away from the fact that some difficult decisions could be pending this summer.

The Black Cats have rejected two separate bids from Burnley for Jack Clarke, but that does not mean they will continue turning down offers if their valuation is met.

“When we eventually sell a player who’s come, improved and moved on, I understand that will have huge implications for the club,” said Speakman. “It could be next week, it could be next year. We think we know where value is in the market and we think we know our players’ value. I’m looking forward to adding that conundrum to Sunderland.”

A decision over Ross Stewart’s future is also pending, with the Black Cats still having been unable to agree a new contract with the striker, who has entered the final year of his current deal as he continues to recover from a serious Achilles injury.

“The situation is no different to where we have been,” said Speakman. “We are really keen to retain Ross and everything from his camp is that he’d like to stay. But we haven’t got to an agreement that both parties would like to sign off.

“Externally that can seem strange, but we don’t think it is – Dennis Cirkin re-signed (last month) and we have been speaking to him about his contract for maybe six months.”