Sunderland have agreed a deal with AZ Alkmaar for USA International striker Jozy Altidore. The American scored 23 league goals in 33 games last season in the Eredivise which is an impressive return. The striker is only 23 years old despite being in Europe since 2008 when a big money move to Villareal resulted in failure. He has had talent since his early move from America but he has failed to live up to the hype but his time in Holland saw him start to realise his potential. Many say Jurgen Klinsmann has had a big influence in this since his appointment as USA manager.
The American scored a goal every 123.2 minutes last season which is an impressive return, however the Eredivise is considerably weaker than the Premier League. While playing in the Premier League for Hull City in 2009/10, he only managed one goal in 1,461 minutes which showed his inexperience at the time. Sunderland’s current first choice striker Steven Fletcher netted 11 goals which came every 216 minutes. The Scot also had a shooting accuracy of 65%. When compared to Altidore’s at Hull which was 36%, Fletcher looks to be far superior. However Altidore has developed since then, as his impressive goal tally at AZ shows.
Danny Graham will also be in competition with the USA International but as far he has failed to impress since signing for the Black Cats in January. He has played 940 minutes but he has yet to score for the North East outfit. His roots as a Newcastle fan may work against him as Paulo di Canio continues to shape his Sunderland squad. His shooting accuracy of 62% is impressive but the goal drought could have contributed to Altidore being signed. The other attacking option at the club is Connor Wickham who has yet to live up to the fee that the club paid for him to Ipswich. Ji Dong-Won is also at the club but is expected to make a permanent move to the Bundesliga this summer.
Altidore is far better than Graham creatively as shown by his three assists while at Hull compared to Graham’s one. The AZ Alkmaar player managed to create a chance every 64 minutes while at Hull, whereas Graham only created a chance every 157 minutes. Graham may see himself pushed down the pecking order with the Altidore and Fletcher partnership being preferred by Di Canio. This partnership offers the aerial ability of Fletcher combined with the powerful nature of Altidore which looks promising for Sunderland fans. Both players are used to scoring goals so the battle to be the team’s top scorer could push both to perform even better. Although I also expect both to provide goals for the other.
Paulo Di Canio has reshaped the squad at the Stadium of Light so his tactics should be prominent this season as he can use tactics which show his philosophy. He has signed Cabral, Modibo Diakite, Valentin Roberge, David Moberg Karlsson and Vito Mannone which suggests the side will play a more Continental style. He has also sold Titus Bramble, Matthew Kilgallon, Simone Mignolet and Ahmed Elmohamady. Last season Sunderland played a bland style relying heavily on Steven Fletcher, but it looks like Di Canio is placing greater emphasis on an attacking style. The loss of Mignolet will damage the side as he won the club points on his own in many games.