Sunderland have been flirting with the Sky Bet Championship for many seasons now, and the 2016/17 campaign proved to be one step too far for the Black Cats, who have suffered relegation from the Premier League.
David Moyes has announced he will be remaining as Sunderland’s manager for their Championship return, but faces the possibility of life in the second-tier without his two best players from this season, Jordan Pickford and Jermain Defoe.
Defoe’s situation is bizarre, with the 34-year old set to walk away from the Stadium of Light for free, which will leave a gaping hole in Sunderland’s attack ahead of next season.
Moyes will undoubtedly have to replace Defoe next season, with the England striker scoring 16 of Sunderland’s 28 goals in the Premier League.
One player who could step into Defoe’s shoes is former Sunderland striker, Darren Bent, who arguably enjoyed the best spell of his career at the Stadium of Light between 2009 and 2011.
Bent is currently playing in the Championship with Derby County, where he has just extended his contract until the end of the 2017/18 campaign, but is still reportedly available for a move this summer.
David Nugent and Matej Vydra are likely to be at the forefront of Gary Rowett’s plans at Derby next season, with Bent facing limited opportunities at the Pride Park Stadium.
The 33-year old is coming to the end of his career, but still bagged 13 goals across all competitions last season for Derby, proving he is still good enough for the Championship.
Next season will be difficult for Sunderland, with the pressure on the Black Cats to have a positive season after years of disappointment in the top-flight, and with Defoe leaving, a striker with Championship experience must be brought in to help the club through a transition period.
Bent’s time with Derby appears to be coming to an end, and a move to Sunderland, where he has proved to be prolific before, could be a move to suit all parties.