Sunderland’s misfiring recruitment strategy associated with their time in the Premier League is a world away from their affluent and astute approach in the present day.
The Black Cats’ former scattergun approach in the transfer market culminated in their rapid drop into League One, consistently picking up flops – like Jack Rodwell and Didier Ndong – instead of being measured and smart with their recruitment.
Whilst that strategy was a huge factor in their downfall, their approach of scouring leagues across Britain for the best young talent has contributed to their recent rise.
Their promotion back to the Championship in 2022 and their play-off finish last term was the result of successful recruitment.
Sunderland now target talented youngsters, predominantly aged 23 and under, who have the potential to become Premier League stars.
The above approach has seen them bring in Jack Clarke, whose excellent displays have brought top-flight attention, while the performances of right-back Trai Hume have slipped under the radar.
The fee Sunderland paid for Trai Hume
Hume became Sunderland’s first signing of 2022, arriving from Danske Bank Premiership outfit Linfield FC for a fee in the region of £150k.
The then 19-year-old enjoyed an impressive 2021/22 campaign, scoring three goals and supplying two assists in 17 appearances under the management of former Black Cats striker David Healy.
Despite his tender age, Hume had racked up over 50 senior appearances in Northern Ireland, including outings in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League qualifying stages.
With some impressive pedigree under his belt, the versatile defender – who can operate as a midfielder or centre-back – would soon add a League One promotion to his list of accolades.
Whilst he would only feature three times for Sunderland in the second half of that campaign, the appointment of Tony Mowbray would prove to be the catalyst for his development.
Known for his ability to improve young players, Hume played a pivotal role in the Black Cats’ charge towards the play-offs last season, making 34 appearances across all competitions.
Having established himself as a regular fixture in the side, the 5 foot 10 ace has since become one of the best in his position this term.
Trai Hume’s season in numbers
Although his teammate Clarke will take the plaudits for scoring nine goals in 16 Championship appearances, Hume’s impact from a defensive point of view has been just as important.
The 21-year-old, who starred in his nation’s 2-0 win against Denmark on Monday night, has been a revelation for club and country this term.
In that impressive victory over the Danes, Hume put in a monstrous defensive display, making six tackles, winning eight of his ten ground duels, four of his seven aerial duels and two clearances, as per Sofascore.
It’s that level of performance on the international stage that Sunderland supporters have become accustomed to seeing throughout this campaign.
Described by his defensive partner Daniel Ballard as “brilliant” and someone who “loves a tackle”, Hume has exemplified his ferocity in one-on-one situations by ranking in the top 4% against his positional peers in the Championship for tackles, top 16% for interceptions and top 9% for aerials won, as per FBref.
The ferocious defender is also exquisite in possession, marauding into midfield to create overloads down the flank by impressing with his superb passing range, placing within the top 13% for pass completion and top 23% for passes into the final third.
Whilst Hume’s importance to Sunderland shot up, so has his value, and this is showcased by Football Transfers, who value him at €7.4M (£6.4m) currently.
This means his transfer value has skyrocketed by a whopping 4100% in nearly two years since joining for an initial £150k from Linfield.
If he continues his upward trajectory – like his teammate Clarke – he looks destined to play Premier League football in the near future.