This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Leeds United are reportedly interested in a deal to sign Sunderland youngster Josh Hawkes, according to TEAMtalk.
Hawkes has been with the club since the summer of 2020, and has one year remaining on his contract with the Black Cats.
The midfielder has caught the eye with a number of strong performances for the club’s Under-23s side in this year’s campaign, as they reached the Premier League play-offs.
It appears as though his impressive showings haven’t gone unnoticed though, with West Ham United and Crystal Palace also believed to be keen on signing Hawkes heading into the summer transfer window.
The 21-year-old hasn’t made his first-team debut for Sunderland yet, much to the disappointment of some of the Stadium of Light faithful, who were keen to see his impressive performances rewarded.
A move to Elland Road with Leeds United could be a tempting proposition for Hawkes as well, with Marcelo Bielsa’s side currently sat tenth heading into their final game of the 2020/21 season, in what is their first year back in the top-flight.
We ask our Football League World writers what they make of Leeds’ interest in signing Hawkes, and whether they can see Sunderland wanting to move him on this summer or not.
Sunderland’s Josh Hawkes is a player that seems to have a lot of potential and he is someone that is ready to be handed the chance to impress at first-team level now. He has been somewhat surprisingly overlooked by Lee Johnson so far during his time in charge and that could play a role in his future.
Leeds are a great prospect for any player with the sort of talent that Hawkes possesses because Marcelo Bielsa is a manager that will be able to improve their game and get them to a high level if they put the application in. You could see the Sunderland starlet performing well at Elland Road if he adapts well to the club.
The Black Cats will be facing the difficult prospect of another season in the third tier now after missing out on promotion once again. Sunderland might need to raise funds to rebuild the squad and selling someone like Hawkes might be useful for that.
Personally, I feel Sunderland should try and keep hold of him and give him a chance to shine in League One next term. However, if Johnson remains unconvinced by him then they might as well cash in on him this summer.
I think the fact that Premier League clubs are supposedly looking at Hawkes yet he hasn’t even made his senior Sunderland debut yet is a bit of a bizarre one.
You can’t get around the fact that the 22-year-old is firing goals in for their under-23 squad, but why hasn’t Lee Johnson given him a chance yet? There surely must be a reason and Black Cats fans have been clamouring for him to play for months now.
If Leeds are interested then I can only see Hawkes going into their development squad – we have no idea what the attacking midfielder’s actual level is and he won’t be getting into a Premier League’s first team anytime soon you’d imagine.
I also can’t see Sunderland getting the kind of offer that would tempt them to sell – Kyril Louis-Dreyfus has money and he will be fully aware of what Hawkes has been doing recently so it would be no shock to me if he’s in the first-team come next season.
Which clubs do these former Sunderland players play for nowadays?
This could be a shrewd move by Leeds United this summer.
I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen of Hawkes with Sunderland’s Under-23s team, and I find it odd that he’s not been given a chance in the first-team yet.
This could be one of those situations where he moves on to a club in a higher division, and really kicks on. This obviously wouldn’t be ideal for Sunderland, as with one year remaining on his contract, they might not get a sizeable fee for his services, but you would imagine they’ll be doing everything they can to keep hold of Hawkes.
Leeds have already shown that there is a clear pathway through to the first-team for younger players, and I think Hawkes would be capable of forcing his way into the matchday squad with the senior side in future seasons if he can continue to impress.