Sunderland are interested in a move to sign Nottingham Forest attacker Zach Clough, a report from The Sunderland Echo has claimed.
Following a recent upturn in form, the Black Cats are now pushing for a place in the League One play-off places in the second half of the season, and look set to try and add to their squad in the current transfer in an attempt to boost their hopes of doing that, with Clough emerging as a potential target for Phil Parkinson’s side.
The 24-year-old joined Forest from Bolton in January 2017, but has struggled to make an impact at the City Ground recently, failing to make a single appearance for Sabri Lamouchi’s Championship promotion chasers in the current campaign.
Prior to that, Clough spent last season on loan in League One with Rochdale, meaning he does have recent experience of the division he would find himself in if he makes a move to the Stadium of Light.
So would Clough be a good signing for Sunderland?
Here, we put the spotlight on the attacker’s performances for Rochdale last season, in order to find out.
Having made just 13 appearances for Rochdale throughout the course of the 2018/19 and Clough did not exactly get many chances to really impress during his time in League One, although the stats do seem to suggest he did show flashes of potential during his time at Spotland.
While he would only score one goal during his time with ‘Dale – in a 2-1 EFL Trophy win over Bury – the fact that 40% of his shots were on target, means that he looks to have been capable of giving goalkeepers at this level something to think about.
Indeed, with Clough taking 15 shots in 13 appearances – not all of which lasted the full 90 minutes, it should be noted – it certainly seems as though the attacker has the confidence to back himself to step up and take on the mantle of finding the net, something which, given their own struggles to find a goalscorer this season, could prove useful to Sunderland.
Add to that an average of more than two touches in the opposition box per 90 minutes, and there can be no questioning Clough’s desire to put himself in the position where he has the best chance of making a positive impact for his team.
It also seems as though it wouldn’t just be scoring goals that Clough could help Sunderland.
With seven shot assists during those 13 appearances for Rochdale, Clough has also shown that he could possess the sort of creative spark that could help to present even more chances for his potential new teammates at the Stadium of Light, which could help improve the Black Cats’ attacking prospects all-round.
Interestingly, it isn’t just going forward where Clough may be able to make an impact for Sunderland, with a defensive duels success rate of 69.5% suggesting he will also be able to help shut down attacks before they become too damaging for his side further down the pitch, even potentially allowing them to hit sides with a counter-punch of their own, thanks to Clough’s role winning the ball back in the final third.
As a result, despite the lack of opportunities for Clough in the past year and a half, there does seem to be an argument that what chances he has been given, he has managed to take, meaning this may yet be a reasonably smart move for Sunderland, if they can pull it off.