Fantasy PL – Sunderland’s Signings Assessed

6-time English champions Sunderland went through a rough few months recently, having to deal with the unforgiving nature of the Premier League’s relegation battle. In the end however, with the help of Dutch managing legend Dick Advocaat, the Black Cats secured survival and treated the fans to the prospect of at least another two Tyne and Wear Derbies. With the new campaign and the connected Fantasy League season looming large, we looked at the club’s new signings so far.

Younes Kaboul – Centre Back – £4.5 million – Last Club: Tottenham – Performance Data 2014/15

Having turned out for three different Premier League clubs since 2007, Kaboul is no unknown in England. There were times when the French centre-back played at such a high level, that a call-up to the French national team came as no surprise. However, the defender had to go through a rough patch, having only been used as a back-up by Spurs since the beginning of the 2012/13 campaign. Still only 29 years of age, Sunderland were happy to part with £3 million for his services and the player might actually go through his very personal renaissance on Tyneside. He joins the club with the experience of 150 Premier League appearances and is likely to provide an added level of stability. Kaboul certainly is a decent player and might surprise quite a few pundits. At £4.5 million, he is arguably cheap and might be the perfect back-up defender, as he can also chip in the odd goal or two, having scored ten across his Premier League career so far.

Adam Matthews – Right-Back – £4.5 million – Last Club: Celtic – Performance Data 2014/15

Sunderland’s defensive revolution seems to continue with the purchase of Welsh right-back Adam Matthews from Scottish Premiership side Celtic. Matthews arrives at Sunderland for a fee just shy of £2 million and might play an interesting role due to the lack of vast competition in his position, although the likes of John O’Shea, Wes Brown and fellow new arrival Younes Kaboul are flexible enough to play the full-back role if and when required. The 23-year old Welshman has 101 Scottish Premiership appearances to his name and contributed an impressive 20 assists during his time at Celtic Park. Equally impressive is Matthews’ record of only three yellow cards during his time in Scotland, despite playing in an arguably rough football division. Some of the right-backs career highlights can be viewed here. Young and rather unknown, the former Cardiff City player is a hot prospect for this year’s Fantasy League. At £4.5 million, Adam Matthews is certainly worth a punt at the least.

Jeremain Lens – Left-Winger – £6.5 million – Last Club: Dynamo Kiev – Performance Data 2014/15

So far, Dutch winger Jeremain Lens is Sunderland’s stand-out transfer of the summer. Most intriguingly, Lens played for manager Dick Advocaat at Dutch side AZ Alkmaar during the 2009/10 season. Consequently, Sunderland’s current manager knows his £8 million purchase well enough to know as to wether the player is a good fit; this will certainly benefit the 27-year old. For a winger, Lens is incredibly prolific and managed to score 56 goals and to provide 50 assists in 182 Dutch Eredivisie games. Last season, Lens scored five goals and provided ten assists in 21 games for Dynamo Kiev in the Ukrainian top flight. Most of Lens’ highlights from last season can be viewed here. Depending on Sunderland’s prospects this season, £6.5 million might be considered a tad too steep for the Dutch international. However, if Lens manages to settle in quickly and the team perform well enough, he might become one of the league’s best wingers.

Sunderland seem to be keen to continue their summer splurge and, given last season’s underwhelming performances, might need another addition or two to stay clear of any relegation battle. The above outlined players, Adam Matthews in particular, seem interesting prospects, but they might not be deemed sufficient for the upcoming Premier League campaign.