Callum Styles: What we know about Sunderland transfer interest and what he would bring to squad

Sunderland have been linked with a move for a League One midfielder in the January window
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Sunderland have been linked with a move for Barnsley's Callum Styles, so who is he and what would he add to the squad?

We take a closer look....

Who is Callum Styles and what would he bring to the Sunderland squad?

Styles has been a fixture in Barnsley's side over the few years, aside from a loan spell at Millwall last season which was heavily impacted by injury. Primarily he is a midfielder who can play a variety of roles, and has three goals and two assists from 20 appearances so far this season.

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Styles is also capable of playing as a wing back, and did so regularly during Barnsley's unlikely surge for the play-offs under Valérien Ismaël in 2021. That versatility would of course appeal to Sunderland, particularly in the short term where they are light on numbers on the left side of defence as a result of multiple injuries.

This season Styles has played predominantly in midfield, and that is also where he plays at international level for Hungary. While he is capable of playing in a more defensive role, Barnsley boss Neill Collins has played him in a more advanced position this season and that is something which Styles has relished.

"I've played left wing-back in previous seasons and sometimes in the No 8, but at the minute I'm playing as more of a box-to-box No 8 and sometimes in the No 10," he told Sky Sports in October.

"I feel like there's that bit more freedom to go forward, create and get on the end of things. Attacking is the best part of the game, it's just about implementing that more because I haven't done that in my career an awful lot and I'm not used to playing in that position for a long period of time throughout the season."

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In recent weeks, Styles has again dropped into a wing back role and so could fulfil a number of roles within Sunderland's side.

What's his situation with Barnsley?

Styles was expected to leave the club in the summer but in the end no move materialised. The 23-year-old has worked his way back into the side and played regularly since, but is widely expected to leave the club this month.

Neill Collins confirmed his possible departure after the 1-0 win over Oxford United last night, a game for which Styles was absent from the matchday squad.

"The club are in negotiations with another club," Collins said. Barnsley's chairman had admitted earlier in the week that Styles could well leave the club this window.

What's the situation with Sunderland's bid and what happens next?

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As per Sky Sports, The Echo understands that Sunderland have held talks with Barnsley over a loan deal that would include a compulsory purchase clause in the summer. Club sources also indicated that no deal had been agreed, however. Styles is believed to have interest from elsewhere in the Championship and so this story may well have a little way to run yet.

From a Sunderland perspective, it's an interesting move and confirms the desire to offer more depth and competition for Dan Neil and Pierre Ekwah. Styles wouldn't be the specialist holding midfielder many fans would like to see arrive, but his ability to offer cover and drive from the left of defence is a major string to his bow.

It gives us some insight into the club's plans for the final week of the window, regardless of whether this particularly deal gets done. That, for now, is far from clear.