Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson has compared new signing Frederik Alves’ abilities to one of the stars of the Black Cats’ 2020-21 campaign in Dion Sanderson.
The 21-year-old arrived from West Ham United on a season-long loan last week and could form a loanee partnership with Manchester City teenager Callum Doyle, who is impressing on Wearside after just a few games in the red and white shirt.
Having been on the bench for the Hammers a number of times in the second half of last season following his arrival from the Danish second tier, Alves has been sent out to gain some crucial senior game-time, with his previous men’s football experience coming in 50 outings for Silkeborg.
He will provide competition for the likes of Bailey Wright and Tom Flanagan and despite not playing yet for the Black Cats, he has already been given a comparison by his new manager that means that he has a high standard to reach.
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Sanderson was one of Sunderland’s best players in the previous campaign and his performances saw him earn a new long-term contract at Wolves and a loan move to Championship side Birmingham City – Johnson sees many of the traits that Sanderson possesses in Alves.
“He’s someone that Stuart Harvey [Sunderland’s head of recruitment] really likes and rated,” Johnson said of Alves, via The Chronicle.
“We did our research and it’s going to be really interesting to see how he gets on.
“I don’t want to compare them but he is much in the mould of Dion, in terms of the style of play. But obviously, they’re both their own individual players. “
Alves definitely has a high standard to live up to after Sanderson’s showings last season, but it’s to be expected when you’re arriving at a club that expect promotion this season.
With the club now focused on data and analytics when it comes to recruitment, Sunderland’s transfer team will have been looking for defenders in their budget or range that were physical but also quick and comfortable on the ball – all the things that Sanderson is.
Unless you’re an avid watcher of West Ham’s under-23 matches, no-one has seen a great deal of Alves since he arrived on British shores so it’s hard to know what to really expect of his performances.
But trust has to be put in the Black Cats’ transfer team on this one – there’s been a mix of youth and experience brought in this summer so far and with two wins in two league games, things are going just fine so far and Alves could make things even better.