It’s important for footballers to be chirpy about pre-season signings, especially to the local press, but Sunderland stalwart Sebastian Larsson came over a touch too effusive regarding the Black Cats’ capture of former Spurs defender Younes Kaboul and wide-forward Jeremain Lens from Dynamo Kiev.
Having pulled off a third unlikely Premier League survival on the spin under Dick Advocaat last season, Larsson is confident that his side’s summer business will help them aim higher next term, as opposed to just avoiding 9/4 relegation.
The former Arsenal trainee might have waited for a few more substantial signings before gushing to the Sunderland Echo though, with the below quotes lifted from their pages:
“We needed that quality coming in. That’s what we were looking for.
“We want people playing in the right positions, who can only improve us.
“Kaboul is someone who has been there and done it and done really well.”
It seems being there/doing that now means winning one Coupe de France, one English League Cup, picking up five caps for your country, and having no knees left to show for it.
Even if Kaboul can recapture some of the form that led Spurs to buy him (twice), missing 75 matches through injury during his second spell at White Hart Lane does not make for good reading.
A much worse statistic is that, having been made Spurs captain by Mauricio Pochettino last summer, Kaboul managed just 15 all-competition appearances for the Lilywhites in 2014/15, despite being fit for much of the campaign.
If sticking up for Sunderland’s centre-half signing was something Larsson successfully skirted over, the 30-year-old dropped a clanger when trumpeting his boss’ compatriot:
“And Lens, you don’t get 30 caps for Holland if you’re a rubbish player.”
This statement suggests some football watchers may indeed believe the former PSV forward is a bit tripe, with a mediocre record of ten goals in 49 Russian Premier League appearances for Dynamo over the past couple of years, 37 of them starts, given as evidence.
Lens isn’t exactly setting the heather alight for his country either, with five of his past twelve Oranje outings coming from the bench, while none of the 27-year-old’s nine Netherlands goals in 29 appearances have come in the last 13 months.
After bagging the joint-second fewest goals of any top-flight side last term and shipping more strikes than 13 of their contemporaries, Advocaat needs more new blood than injury-plagued Kaboul and hit-and-miss Lens.
Some punters will say Sunderland just don’t go down, however haphazard their summer recruitment strategy, but how many times they can muddle their way to safety must be in question.