DAVID MOYES admits he will be looking to move on some of Sunderland’s contracted players as part of this summer’s major squad overhaul.
The Black Cats are set for a hectic close season, with eight of their players due to become free agents and a further three set to leave at the end of their loan deals. #
The likes of John O’Shea, Seb Larsson and Steven Pienaar are coming to the end of the current contracts, while Jason Denayer and Adnan Januzaj will not be returning once their loans expire.
With Jermain Defoe also leaving because of a relegation clause in his contract, and Jordan Pickford’s future sure to lie away from Wearside as some of the leading clubs in the country prepare to battle for his signature, Sunderland could lose up to a dozen players as they prepare for life in the Championship.
However, Moyes does not want the clear-out to end there, and is already targeting some of the contracted players he feels have underperformed markedly this season.
Substitute goalkeeper Vito Mannone will almost certainly be leaving, and Moyes is also prepared to listen to offers for Lamine Kone, Jack Rodwell, Wahbi Khazri and Fabio Borini despite them being four of the most high-profile members of the squad that will be left in place come the end of next month.
Kone has failed to recover his form since Moyes blocked a proposed move to Everton last summer, Rodwell is one of the highest-earning players on Sunderland’s books despite his dreadful injury record, Khazri has been a fringe performer for the majority of the season with his manager unhappy with his work rate, and Borini has rarely lived up to his billing in a campaign that has seen him score just two Premier League goals.
“While the players are under contract, they’re our players, although there’ll maybe be some of them that we don’t want,” said Moyes, who is due to meet Sunderland owner Ellis Short for talks in London at the start of next week. “We might want some of them to go, in fact we probably do.
“I’ve spoken to all the players now. I’ve told them exactly what’s going on. We’ve got ten or 11 that are under contract and are still going to be here, but we’ve also got a number of players who have options where they could leave for whatever reason. Obviously they can take up those options if they like.”
As well as looking to move players on in the next couple of months, Moyes will also be keen to make a raft of signings as he attempts to ensure his squad is ready to compete in the Championship next season.
The large number of departures will help reduce the wage bill, and most players who remain will see their wages reduce because of a clause built into their contract. Sunderland will receive around £44m in parachute payments next summer, but with their overall debt already exceeding the £110m mark, Short will be wanting to run as tight a ship as possible.
Newcastle spent around £50m last summer, having brought in around £80m from player sales, and their expenditure was rewarded when they claimed the Championship title. Middlesbrough are expected to spend up to £40m as they look to engineer an immediate return to the top-flight, and Moyes will be urging Short to commit a similar figure to Sunderland’s rebuilding job.
“We’ve got a core under contract,” he said. “There’s a core of ten or 11 players under contract. If we can keep them and add to it, we know we’re going to have a look to see what we can do with that.
“If you look at the teams that have come up, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what kind of a budget is required. Hopefully, we’re able to do that.”
Moyes is looking to retain around a dozen players from the squad that was relegated, and Bryan Oviedo is one of the players he will be keen to field in the Championship.
The full-back has done reasonably well since moving from Everton in January, and returned from a month-long absence when he started Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal.
He freely admits things have not gone to plan in the last five months, but is determined to help repair the damage in the second tier.
“At the moment I feel disappointed because when I came here, I came with the ambition to try to help the team to stay in the Premier League,” said Oviedo. “But it was not easy.
“We didn’t get the results we wanted, but we need to look forward and be ready for next season. The team needs to get back to the Premier League because everyone wants this – the team and the fans.”