Sunderland transfer news: Black Cats considering free agent option

Kristjaan Speakman says Sunderland tried to sign another centre-back in the final days of the January transfer window and could still explore the free agent market.

The Black Cats brought in six new players last month, but do appear a little light at the back following the departures of Frederik Alves and Tom Flanagan.

Centre-back Danny Batth moved to Wearside from Stoke City, while Callum Doyle and Bailey Wright, who has been sidelined with a calf issue, have been key players this season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sunderland could also call upon Arbenit Xhemajli, though the 23-year-old has recently returned from a long-term knee injury which kept him sidelined for over a year.

Sunderland’s Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman.Sunderland’s Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman.
Sunderland’s Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman.

When asked about Sunderland’s centre-back situation, Speakman told the SAFC Unfiltered podcast: “In terms of numbers at centre-back, we had four and we’ve still got four. Bailey is about a week to 10 days away.

“Everyone will have a judgement on the value and quality of those four, naturally. We have four in Batth, Doyle, Wright and Arby.

“If you said to me what would you have done, what could you have done, I think naturally we would have liked to acquire another centre-back.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We tried really, really hard to do that both in terms of significant bids on permanent players and loan players.

“You also have to draw a line of how far are you going to go before you are doing something that is negatively going to impact what we are trying to do.

“I think from that perspective we were really comfortable with where we got to.

“You can bring players in and they can be successful, you can choose not to bring players in because you don’t think they are going to fit.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Myself and the recruitment department tried really, really hard to try to identify and find another one but it wasn’t to be.

“That player didn't exist in the end with the scope of what we wanted that player to be.”

Sunderland can still sign players who are free agents, which is an option being considered.

“As soon as the transfer window finishes you are in pursuit of always trying to improve the group and the squad,” added Speakman.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We will always look at that free agency market because you always want to make sure there is nothing that you might have missed or someone who can add additional value.

“We are doing that now over sort of a three or four day period where we run that.

“Ultimately we are super pleased with where we got to at the end of January.

“It’s probably one of the most difficult Januarys I’ve experienced in recent years, especially with the issues around Covid and squads obviously needing to be maintained at Championship and Premier League level because of the rules and regulations about fulfilling fixtures.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We were really pleased that we were able to get a lot of our business done early and weren’t doing too much in the sort of final 72 hours, although we did have some incomings in the period.

“A lot of that was things we were tying up that had been running for a couple of weeks.”