Before Ross Stewart left for Championship rivals Southampton this summer, Sunderland’s sports director, Kristjaan Speakman, admitted that he tried his hardest to keep him on the team.

The future of the Scottish international, who is in the final year of his contract at the age of 27, was one of the major topics of conversation at the Stadium of Light this summer. Although the striker rejected any offers, there had been numerous discussions about a potential extension, and there had been ongoing links to a number of clubs in Scotland and England during the summer market.

It appeared as though Stewart would stay on Wearside as the transfer window closed, but Southampton pounced in the last hours to seal the £10 million acquisition.

It was obviously a setback for Sunderland, but manager Tony Mowbray had repeatedly stated over the previous few weeks that he was looking to boost his front line with a couple forwards. Since Stewart had been sidelined since January due to an Achilles heel issue, substitutes had to be recruited to make up for the goals that he and Amad Diallo, who had returned to Manchester United after a highly productive loan spell, had missed.

Lee Johnson and Kristjaan Speakman assessing Sunderland targets ahead of  crucial January window | Sunderland Echo

The day after obtaining the services of Mason Burstow on a season-long loan from Premier League powerhouse Chelsea, Sunderland responded forcefully with a 5-0 victory over Southampton on Saturday. This came after they had struggled to score goals in the early going of the season.

Speakman claimed that he had attempted to persuade Stewart to stay in the North East but ultimately had to make a difficult decision, speaking on the club’s official website via the Northern Echo;

The guy has played at a very high level for our football club, and we feel blessed to have had him here, so it was a really complicated situation.

Ross Stewart: Former Ardeer and Kilwinning man moves to Southampton |  Irvine Times

We were really pleased with the advancement he made in this area. Ross Stewart’s hiring will have likely been the subject of judgment when he arrived. He took use of this chance to the fullest, and we maximized his potential.

People will occasionally move on and have various possibilities, and that is the result.

“We had to make sure the club was protected, so we attempted to handle the situation by making the best offer we could to keep him, which was our first priority, and I reiterated that throughout all of the internal and external discussions.

But there also comes a time when you have to make a difficult choice, and after you’ve done that, we had to protect the football team and get the best deal, and I believe we achieved that. It was undoubtedly a difficult choice for the player to go on as well.

Author’s Opinion

Although the loss is not as significant as many may have you believe, Sunderland will have been desperate to keep one of the best attackers in the division. Last season, Tony Mowbray managed to reach the playoffs despite the player’s absence for the majority of the campaign due to the Black Cats’ subpar start.

These worries have been allayed by last Saturday’s significant victory, especially since some of their recent acquisitions were benched. After the international break, they play goal-shy Queens Park Rangers, and the manager will be eager to build on the previous performance with yet another impressive victory.


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