It has been a frustrating start to the summer for Sunderland, with their fans not knowing what to expect next season in the Sky Bet Championship, particularly after the departures of Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford – the club’s standout performers last year.
However, things are beginning to look up following Simon Grayson’s appointment, with the 47-year old one of the division’s most promising managers.
Grayson is also likely to attract a certain calibre of players to the Stadium of Light, and seems to be using his links from other clubs to secure deals for Sunderland, with the latest man reportedly on the club’s radar, Max Gradel.
The AFC Bournemouth man previously worked with Grayson at Leeds United, and should Gradel make the switch to the North East, Sunderland would be getting a player who has flourished under their manager before.
During their time at Elland Road together, Grayson and Gradel helped Leeds to promotion from League One, however, the forward did not show his true value until he gained an opportunity in the Championship with the Whites.
The 2010/11 campaign saw Gradel score 18 Championship goals, almost guiding Leeds to a top-six finish. That form saw him earn a move to St Etienne, where he went on to play European football for the French outfit.
The 29-year old’s move to Bournemouth has not worked out, with Gradel limited to just 11 Premier League starts. However, should Sunderland sign the Ivorian this summer, he will undoubtedly be a key member of their squad next season.
Grayson clearly knows how to get the best out of Gradel, and the best football of his career has come in the Championship, under the 47-year old’s management.
If Grayson can strike a deal to bring Gradel to the Stadium of Light, it will give Sunderland a boost on their Championship return, and if the forward can rediscover the form that made him one of the division’s best during his Leeds days, the Black Cats will have a real talent on their hands.