SUNDERLAND have delivered a major statement of intent by landing England winger Adam Johnson on a day of historic spending at the Stadium of Light.
Although both fees were given as undisclosed, The Journal understands the ambitious Black Cats spent in excess of £10million on Manchester City midfielder Johnson.
Johnson’s signing was confirmed just a few hours after the Black Cats completed the £12million capture of striker Steven Fletcher from Wolves. Both have penned four-year deals at Sunderland.
The deals took their spending to around £22million on a day when Ellis Short supplied Martin O’Neill with the kind of high-calibre additions that prove Sunderland’s ambitions are more than just hollow words.
It was a hugely satisfying day for O’Neill, who has buried the frustrations of the summer to land his two main transfer window targets.
He had been tracking Fletcher since April and registered the club’s interest in Johnson in May when it became apparent that the Manchester City midfielder had become frustrated at the lack of match time he was being given at the Etihad.
The Fletcher signing was widely anticipated but the signing of Johnson is more of a coup for Sunderland, even if the lack of serious suitors elsewhere made it slightly easier for the Black Cats to broker a deal for the England man.
Still, they needed to come up with a viable financial package for the well-paid former Middlesbrough winger, and were also tasked with the job of proving their ambitions to the 25-year-old from Easington. Over the 24 hours that he was on Wearside they were able to do that – pulling off a signing that will delight Sunderland fans ahead of their Stadium of Light opener against Reading.
O’Neill said last night: “Adding quality players to the squad has been our main aim this summer and Adam certainly fits that bill.
“He has terrific ability, great delivery and I’m sure he is a player who will excite our fans. I couldn’t be more delighted to have him at the football club.”
Sunderland will now feel that their stated aim of finishing in the top eight while having a crack at one of the cup competitions can be achieved.
Prior to the Johnson signing, O’Neill revealed that he was targeting at least one more player. That is understood to be left-back Ivan Strinic of Dnipro, who is due on Wearside next week for talks over a £7m deal that would free up Kieran Richardson to leave the club.
Perhaps of equal significance given the lack of goals in the team, Sunderland clinched a deal for Fletcher yesterday.
The striker (right) – who will wear squad number 26 – will go straight into the Black Cats squad to take on Reading this afternoon.