Sunderland: Ateef Konate can be Simms 2.0
Sunderland have endured a good return to the Championship despite management upheaval earlier in the season which saw Tony Mowbray brought in as new boss.
The 59-year-old was sent in just a month before the summer window closed so couldn’t make much of an impact on ongoing deals.
Thankfully, however, Kristjaan Speakman’s exploits had already bolstered a squad that only rose through the League One play-offs last year.
One of the sporting director’s most notable deals was the loaning of Ellis Simms from Everton, with the 22-year-old shining at the Stadium of Light.
He scored seven goals in just 17 games in a season that was also plagued by injuries.
However, given his parents’ club’s financial constraints, he had to be called back when they looked for more depth.
This was a smash hit for Wearside supporters but could quickly be forgotten should Speakman strike a similar deal by looking for temporary reinforcements at another Premier League club.
After Alan Nixon yesterday expressed his interest in Nottingham Forest’s Ateef Konate, the attacking midfielder could more than make up for the goalscoring vacancy imposed on him by the Toffees.
Despite struggling for the best minutes this season, the 21-year-old has been on a mission to prove himself well above his current station.
He has done this by scoring eight goals and providing one assist in just eight Premier League 2 games. Such is his pedigree at such a young age that he was even handed his senior championship debut by Steve Cooper last season.
Should Sunderland give Konate a chance?
Despite being well above his current league, the Forest manager doesn’t seem ready to unleash the Frenchman given the precarious nature of the first-team season. Instead, he opts for even more transfers, further reducing Konate’s chances.
A loan spell at Sunderland could finally help him gain the senior experience his form deserves while hopefully filling the void left by Simm’s departure.
He is clearly an exciting talent and was lauded by Dave Rogers, one of his Under-21 coaches, after winning his division’s Player of the Month award. He claimed: “He’s scored some fantastic goals for us but he brings so much more to the team than just hitting the back of the net.
“He’s a threat to opponents whenever he plays and he’s also added a real will and work ethic off the ball too, which is an area of improvement we’ve asked of him. We hope now that he can develop from here because he is a very talented person.”
Konate could now turn that threat into a tangible senior experience, perhaps pushing the Black Cats towards an unlikely but very possible playoff push.