After completing a move to 46-time Scottish Champions, Celtic, from boyhood club, Cardiff City, Matthews has achieved unprecedented success with his current side. League titles and cup glory have come in abundance, and Matthews’ trophy cabinet would very much be the envy of many of his fellow pros. However, what makes the players achievements more astonishing is the fact that he is only 23 years of age. To boast such an impressive haul of medals at such a young age can only be achieved at a club like Celtic, and although people may question the validity of Celtic’s multiple league championships due to the uncompetitive nature of the division, what cannot be argued is that Matthews has a taste for lifting trophies, and to have that winning mentality instilled into a player from such a tender age is a fantastic addition to the young man’s mental repertoire.
Even the most naive of Sunderland fans will struggle to formulate a persuasive argument that convinces that their side enjoyed a successful Premier League campaign last term. With stars dotted around the side acquired through great investment, the Wearsider’s escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth, with new manager Dick Advocaat dragging his side across the finish line in the dying weeks of the season. The scrap cost former manager, Gustavo Poyet, his job, and led to Sunderland fans baying for funds to be spent by chairman, Ellis Short, to improve the squad over the off season. One area of the field in which the Black Cats failed to impress was in defence, with 53 goals conceded over the course of the campaign; the joint 4th worst record in the division. Combined with another unenviable record of recording only 31 strikes across the season, it is a miracle that the club did not fall through the trap door and find themselves preparing for life back in the Football League. Advocaat has taken action to remedy his defensive headache, signing impressive loanee Sebastian Coates on a permanent basis and reports in the media suggest the Dutchman is set to make further progress in bolstering his backline over the coming weeks. As previously mentioned, Welshman Adam Matthews has been linked to the club, with reports surfacing that Celtic have accepted a bid from Sunderland for the player.
Matthews’ success at Celtic is undisputed, and the winning mentality of the player will undoubtedly add to the Sunderland dressing room, with many of the side’s current stars having never lifted a trophy. Off the field, Matthews has a lot to give, but after playing in an undoubtedly inferior league for a number of seasons, does the defender possess the ability to excel at a higher level? The right-back performed well domestically over the course of the last season, contributing 7 assists from the full-back position, but when challenged to compete at a higher level in Celtic’s Europa League campaign, the stats do not read as well for the player. In 4 European starts, Matthews did manage to register an assist, but his overall performances in the competition have been poor. Operating in his favoured position on the right side of the Bhoys’ backline, Matthews’ recorded a WhoScored.com rating of only 6.26, suggesting the player to struggle when asked to step up to a more competitive level. Such performances have also been noted by national team boss, Chris Coleman, with the player omitted from recent squads. What makes things worse for Matthews is that his absence has gone undisputed due to recent success, with the Welsh team currently topping their European Championship qualifying group after toppling the world’s second best side in the form of Belgium. At the age of 23, the defender is still young enough to force his way back into the reckoning, and a move to England may provide the impetus for the player to once again challenge for a place in the Welsh side.
Although he had failed to impress in more prestigious competition, Sunderland would undoubtedly be acquiring a player that will improve their squad. Matthews’ age, experience and most likely low transfer fee due to his Celtic deal expiring in a year’s time, make a deal for the player an enticing prospect for those associated with the club, and Dick Advocaat will hope the player can help fill the gaping holes in the defence that were exposed so often last season. After 4 years across the border, Matthews will return to English football with a lot to prove. Sunderland and its loyal fans are set to benefit from the agenda the full-back must surely possess; personal targets must include the establishment of a regular starting berth in his new side’s starting line-up, and performances impressive enough to earn a recall in the ever improving Welsh national team. After an abysmal 2014-15 season, Sunderland will look to rebuild, and the acquisition of such a vastly experienced young player will be a welcome addition to the Sunderland dressing room. Dick Advocaat has much to ponder this summer, but will hope that his opening forays into the transfer window will provide the perfect foundations for his summer overhaul of Sunderland Football Club.