With the signing of Czech defender Ondrej Celustka, Sunderland secure their 10th signing of the summer. The 24 year old comes by way of Turkish side Trabzonspor, with prior spells at Slavia Prague and Palermo. He’ll join the Black Cats on a season long loan, the club have confirmed.
While the signing of a right back on loan from a Turkish side may not seem like cause for celebration, the overall picture of Sunderland’s signings just might be. Although many were suspicious of what Paolo Di Canio would bring to the club, the manager’s politics have taken a backseat to his transfer strategy. Under Martin O’Neill, Sunderland signed the likes of Steven Fletcher, Adam Johnson and James McFadden, with only two or three players joining that hadn’t previously played in England.
Now, take a look at what’s been happening this summer. Thus far, the Black Cats have signed just two players from within the English system. They’ve also signed players from Serie A, the Eredivisie, the Swedish top division, the Swiss top division, and more. Sunderland have secured the services of an American, two Italians, three Frenchmen, an Englishman, a Swede, and a Swiss. Next season, we could be seeing the likes of Jozy Altidore, Emanuele Giaccherini and Modibo Diakité all fighting for a starting spot.
To be fair, last season’s starting XI did feature a Belgian, a Spaniard, a Swede and a Beninese. But, with the exception of Stéphane Sessègnon and Simon Mignolet, the majority of Sunderland’s signings prior to this season had experience in England. The same can’t be said of this summer’s signings. Paolo Di Canio and his men are taking a chance, a chance that could very well backfire. But it’s also likely that this crop of signings will help lift Sunderland out of the funk they’ve been in over the past few seasons, by giving them a wider range of talent to chose from and bringing a different selection of playing styles to the pitch.