June 25, 2024

Sunderland are very close to making their first signing of the January transfer window.

Sunderland only has a few days left before the transfer market closes, but they now appear to be ramping up the pace in their efforts to strengthen the squad.
In recent games, the Black Cats have had to play Jenson Seelt out of position due to injuries to their three left-backs.

Niall Huggins will be out for the rest of the season, Dennis Cirkin recently underwent surgery, and Aji Alese will be sidelined for around a month.

Sunderland had been linked with a deal for Leicester City’s Luke Thomas, but the defender instead chose to join rivals Middlesbrough.

Recent reports suggested that Michael Beale’s team was now interested in Leo Hjelde, and journalist Mike McGrath has now verified that the club had ‘arranged a fee’ for the Leeds United starlet.

He wrote: “Sunderland and Leeds have agreed a fee for Norway U21 defender Leo Hjelde. A deal for a 20-year-old is in place, with personal terms to be settled upon before making a permanent move to the Stadium of Light.”

Hjelde began his career at Celtic and was labeled the ‘next Virgil van Dijk’ after a successful loan spell at Ross County.

He then joined Leeds United and spent the second half of the season on loan at Rotherham United, but he is yet to receive a genuine chance with the Whites.
However, former manager Jesse Marsch was very impressed by the Norwegian during his tenure at Elland Road.

After Hjelde was an unused substitute in Leeds’ legendary 3-0 victory over Chelsea last season, Marsch said: “Leo, we think very highly of him; he had a really excellent match last week against Norwich in the U21 encounter. I believe he will play against Barnsley on Wednesday and that he has a bright future with us.

Is Leo Hjelde an exciting signing?

 

I'm sure” - Club captain issues bold international claim about Leeds United  ace impressing on loan - LeedsAllOver

 

It appears to be a highly promising signing for Sunderland, who desperately need to bolster their backline following a difficult few months.

Given the number of young defenders we already have, it’s surprising that he’ll be joining on a permanent basis.

Aji Alese, Niall Huggins, and Dennis Cirkin will all return to battle for the left-back place at some point, while Jenson Seelt and Nectarios Triantis are already filling in for the present defensive pairing of Luke O’Nien and Dan Ballard.

Leo Hjelde’s versatility will undoubtedly be very valuable, but I can’t help but think it will result in discontent for one or two defenders who will struggle to obtain any first-team minutes in the near.

 

 

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