It’s been a slow transfer window as of yet for Sunderland fans but there has been one signing to get the blood pumping. That is the signing of Jeremain Lens from Dynamo Kiev.
This will be the third time the Netherlands international has played under Dick Advocaat after tying up a deal reported to be around £8m.
The versatile attacking midfielder is the sort of player supporters have been crying out for. So here are five reasons why Sunderland fans should be frothing at the prospect of what the pacey Dutchman can do.
He Is Attack Minded
As I said earlier, Sunderland fans have been crying out for an attack minded midfielder for years. Last year we got our wish of an attack minded left-back in Patrick van Aanholt. The first genuine left-back we’ve had since Michael Gray.
The pre-season defeat to Doncaster on Wednesday night gave Lens the chance to show the Black Cats fans just what he can do and it’s safe to say we were all mightily impressed. Every time the Dutchman got the ball he was looking to get forward, attack and create chances.
The only slight worry is that Cabral tore Tottenham apart pre-season under Di Canio yet when it came to the Premier League season he was very, very poor. That being said, I have a bit more hope for Lens.
He Has Worked Under Advocaat Before
Everyone knows managers have their favourites. For example, Steve Bruce took Titus Bramble almost everywhere he went, Alan Pardew seems to have a thing for Yohan Cabaye and Harry Redknapp would take the likes of Niko Kranjcar and Peter Crouch wherever he went.
Well it appears the same goes for Dick and Lens. This will be the third time Lens has played under the little general. This brings with it a whole load of positives.
It means Lens is comfortable playing under Advocaat and has respect for the manager. Lens himself told SAFC reporter Oscar Chamberlain that he knows Dick Advocaat “very well” from his time at AZ Alkmaar and PSV Eindhoven. He also revealed how he reached his “best goalscoring season” under the boss and wants to emulate that at Sunderland.
The Dutchman also fits perfectly into Dick’s 4-3-2-1 formation. I would imagine Lens will play behind the striker, causing problems for the defence with his pace and skill.
Lens should also be fairly comfortable settling in on Wearside. He knows he is going to be one of the first names on the team sheet and has fellow Dutchman Patrick van Aanholt, who played at U-19 level with Lens, at the club.
Having only played in the Netherlands and the Ukraine, you may wonder what I mean by experience. My point is the pacey midfielder has won trophies in both of these countries.
Having won honours wherever he has been surely means he will be hungry for more. At 27 years old, it isn’t as if he’s come to Sunderland to see out the end of his career and get one last final pay cheque. Hopefully having won trophies and played in the Champions League, Lens can give some of the squad the kick up the backside they need.
Lens was also a regular in Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands squad and played a key role in their qualification for the 2014 World Cup.
The only worrying thing is the lack of Premier League experience. Look at Jozy Altidore, he scored two goals in near on 70 matches for Sunderland yet in the Dutch league he was scoring for fun at AZ Alkmaar.
To play the style of attacking football Advocaat wants, it is clear we need pace. Pace is something we’ve always struggled with. We’ve never really had a player with that extra turn of pace and can get round his man.
Van Aanholt is arguably the fastest in the current side and you can see when he bursts down the wing that most players struggle to deal with him. The only problem is, when he went to put a cross in, no one else had been able to keep up with him.
Lens and Adam Johnson should compliment each other nicely. Johnson has always been hit and miss but on his day can be untouchable. His only downfall is that he looks to be running in quick sand most of the game.
Having a player of Johnson’s skill level but with pace as well is an exciting prospect for Sunderland fans.
Having looked through Lens’ career stats it is clear to see that the midfielder has an end product. Lens scored 56 goals and assisted a further 50 in 182 matches in the Eredivise. Not a bad return for a midfielder. His stats are just as impressive in the Ukrainian league, the Champions League and the Europa league.
Having a midfielder who can score and set up goals will be a hugely beneficial for the Black Cats. Last season we scored just 31 goals. Only Burnley scored fewer and they ended up relegated.
Sunderland’s strikers added only a few of the overall 31 goals but that could be down to the lack of service they received. Hopefully, with the introduction of Lens, that tally will be a lot higher in the coming season.
As always, it is easy for a footballer to look good on paper. The one saving grace with Lens is the fact his stats are consistent wherever he has been. Hopefully, he can settle quickly into English football and help Sunderland to a comfortable mid table finish.