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…
Sunderland have allowed 30-year-old forward Will Grigg to go out on loan to League One rivals Rotherham United for the rest of the campaign, all but bringing the curtain down on what has been a miserable time for the Northern Irishman at the Stadium of Light.
After enjoying a reasonably successful spell at Wigan Athletic, becoming a household name around the time of the 2016 European Championships and winning a place in his nation’s squad for the international tournament, he joined the Black Cats for a whopping £4m fee in February 2019.
Despite this, he has endured a torrid spell on Wearside, scoring eight goals in 62 competitive appearances for Lee Johnson’s side and being frozen out of the first team with Everton loanee Nathan Broadhead jumping above him in the pecking order and Ross Stewart stepping up to the plate this season.
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There were concerns about a potential lack of attacking firepower up top after Charlie Wyke, who scored 28 league goals last term, left the club for Wigan Athletic this summer. But Stewart has bagged an impressive four goals in five games and this pushed Grigg closer to the exit door at the Stadium of Light.
The 30-year-old finally sealed a temporary move away on deadline day and with his contract expiring next summer, it’s more than likely he’s already played his last game in a Sunderland shirt.
After this loan move, we asked three of our writers at Football League World whether they thought the decision to send him out on loan was the right one from Black Cats officials.
I think even though Sunderland didn’t get the striker they probably wanted in the summer transfer window, letting Grigg depart was still best for all concerned.
It was clear that he wanted a move that allowed his commute to be a shorter one from his family in the Midlands and Rotherham provides just that, although you do have to worry that Sunderland could be strengthening a promotion rival if he ends up finding his shooting boots.
Grigg proved that he wasn’t finished whatsoever after scoring eight times for MK Dons last season, but for whatever reason it just didn’t click for him at the Stadium of Light.
It may have been the mass expectation placed upon his shoulders due to the transfer fee the club spent, but the Northern Ireland international simply couldn’t get going on Wearside.
It’s very likely that Grigg has now played his last game for Sunderland with his contract expiring next summer, and with just Ross Stewart, Aiden O’Brien and the versatile Leon Dajaku on the books, Lee Johnson doesn’t have too much in the way of options but with the way Sunderland have started the season he will not be concerned too much.
Without a doubt, this is the right call to let him go.
The Grigg move just hasn’t worked out and it will be viewed as one of the worst transfers the club have made in their recent history – and there’s a lot of competition for that!
For whatever reason, the Northern Ireland international just couldn’t settle at the Black Cats, with his high fee meaning the fans understandably had high hopes for the player. Lee Johnson’s criticism of the player in the summer shows that he wasn’t a fan of Grigg, so an exit is the best for all parties.
You could argue that they shouldn’t have sent him to a side that are also hoping to be pushing for automatic promotion this season but they just needed to get Grigg out.
So, it’s a move that appears to suit all parties. Rotherham get someone who has shone at this level in the past, Grigg will be at a club that should give him regular minutes, whilst Sunderland have reduced the wage bill somewhat and moved on an individual they didn’t really need.
Put simply, it’s just not worked out for Will Grigg at Sunderland.
Given Ross Stewart’s impressive early season form and the addition of Nathan Broadhead from Everton, Grigg’s first-team chances were always going to be limited at Sunderland.
So, sending him out on loan again was the right call from the Black Cats and for Rotherham they’ll be happy to take the player whom we know can score goals at this level.
Grigg showed flashes of his former self at MK Dons last term and Paul Warne will be hoping he can find his goalscoring touch in front of goal for the Millers.