Sunderland will pitch for Chelsea's best youngsters to plug the gaps

Sunderland will try to exploit their links with Chelsea to fill the gaps in their squad the club's academy cannot

Alex Livesey/Getty Images Gus Poyet, head coach of Sunderland AFC
Gus Poyet, head coach of Sunderland AFC

Sunderland are set to follow Middlesbrough’s lead in pitching for Chelsea’s best youngsters as a stop-gap measure until their academy is up to scratch.

Boro manager Aitor Karanka used his relationship with Jose Mourinho to borrow Nathaniel Chalobah and Kenneth Omeruo last season.

The Black Cats are interested in signing defender Andreas Christensen and midfielder Lewis Baker in addition to their interest in Kurt Zouma, which The Journal revealed this week.

Coach Gustavo Poyet is an ex-Blues player, and sporting director Lee Congerton was a youth coach there.

Chelsea loaned 30 players out last season.

Congerton – who is in charge of player development, as well as recruitment – sees the loan market as a stop-gap measure.

“Last year the club did very well with the signing on loan of Ki (Sung-Yeung) and Fabio Borini, so we will go into the loan market again, he commented recently.

“Hopefully in years to come the loan market won’t be as important as it is today and we can have more players that have come through the academy, or actually belong to Sunderland Football Club.”

Third-choice goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is set to be the only academy graduate in next season’s first team after Jack Colback ran down his contract to join Newcastle United. Pickford did, however, sign a new long-term deal.

Meanwhile, Vito Mannone has issued a statement to reassure fans he is not looking to leave after the arrival of Costel Pantilimon, and insists he is still the club’s first-choice goalkeeper. Pantilimon joined from Manchester City this summer, and many expect the Romanian to start the season as the No.1 goalkeeper.

Others speculated that Mannone responded with a transfer request.

But the Italian says neither of those things are true.

“I don’t know where this false speculation is coming from but I want to let supporters know there is absolutely nothing in it,” he said.

“I have not asked for a transfer and have no intention of doing so.

“Why would I? I love Sunderland and the Sunderland fans.

“The manager told me some time ago that he would be bringing someone else in because two keepers (Keiren Westwood and Oscar Ustari) were leaving, but he also told me I am his number one and that’s good enough for me.”

Meanwhile, Poyet’s son Diego has turned down a new Charlton Athletic contract, which is bound to lead to speculation about the highly-rated England Under-16 midfielder moving to Wearside.

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