Sunderland are now in the process of putting the final pieces together ahead of their League One season opener against Wigan Athletic in just over a week.
In a season where the expectation levels are just as high as ever, Lee Johnson will be hoping to finalise his business in this summer’s transfer window sooner rather than later, in order to give him enough time to prepare his squad and integrate any late signings.
The Black Cats saw four central midfielders depart at the end of last season, making it an area that originally needed prioritising.
However, the arrivals of Alex Pritchard and Corry Evans will offer a partial solution. The former has an excellent technical ability and if he can keep himself fit and focussed, he can have an excellent season in the third-tier.
Evans is also a brilliant addition at League One level. He is an energetic yet composed in possession type of midfielder, and he will certainly keep things ticking in the middle of the park.
Despite the two good signings, it seems that Sunderland lack a bit of athleticism in central midfield – a situation that would be made worse if Elliot Embleton departs this summer.
And given the high-pressing, error-forcing style of play that Johnson is trying to implement at The Stadium of Light, athletic players are required in these areas.
Oldham Athletic’s Dylan Bahamboula is one player who would solve this. The 26-year-old is a mobile attack-minded midfield player who has enjoyed a great season in an Oldham team that struggled.
He netted six times and provided a further eight assists, proving to be just as competent scoring goals as he is at setting them up.
Bahamboula also has the work rate and desire to run for his teammates to match his attacking talents, whilst having the physical attributes to play at a higher level than the fourth-tier of English football.
The French-born, Congolese international spent the early stages of pre-season with Middlesbrough but was unable to win a contract despite impressing Neil Warnock: “I think Dylan did well, and I told Keith [Curle] how excellent he was.
“I’m just looking for something different if I’m honest.
The fact that Bahamboula stepped up to Championship level and has been praised in the way that he has, shows he deserves to be playing football at a much higher level and makes it a surprise that no other club in the lower half of the Championship or the top end of League One have tried their luck.