As if this summer hadn’t been frustrating enough for Sunderland. A raft of departures and expiring contracts mean new manager Simon Grayson has walked into the Stadium of Light to take over a squad held together by bluetack and string.
With pre-season looming ominously on the horizon, Sunderland don’t even have a senior striker following the departures of Jermain Defoe, Fabio Borini and Victor Anichebe.
Grayson also has to find a solution to a complete lack of creativity within a side who scored just 29 Premier League goals last season, unsurprisingly finishing bottom of the pile. And, with a debt crisis restricting transfer funds, the 47-year-old has an almighty challenge constructing a squad capable of dealing with the rigours of Championship football.
Simon Grayson faces a mammoth task
It doesn’t help, then, that Bild claim Marcel Heller rejected the chance to move to Sunderland this summer. The winger finished dead last in the Bundesliga with Darmstadt last season but his impressive performances meant he was always unlikely to go down with them.
Heller scored nine goals and set up eight assists since Darmstadt’s promotion in 2015 and the fact he was out of contract this summer meant he caught the eye of both West Ham and Burnley, according to Football London.
Sunderland too. The report claims that The Black Cats had attempted to encourage the journeyman Heller to move outside Germany for the first time in his career. One of the quickest players in the Bundesliga at the age of 31, his eye for goal and threat on the counter would have made him an excellent addition for a side desperately crying out for forward thrust.
Marcel Heller was arguably the pick of the bunch for Darmstadt
The fact he was available on a free only made him a more tempting proposition.
Yet, Heller instead chose to put pen to paper with FC Augsburg, ensuring he will remain a Bundesliga player. The frustration goes on for Sunderland.