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Which Sunderland players might be playing for West Ham next season?

With the Black Cats all but certain to go down, a number of players have been linked to the Hammers

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Sunderland has been having a rough season this year, with the team doomed to relegation for what has seemed like months now, the press has been speculating on the potential for a fire-sale of players from the Wearside club.

West Ham United has been linked with a number of the players that currently ply their trade on at the Stadium of Light, with the potential move for ex-Hammer Jermain Defoe being the highest profile of the potential transfers. The potential return “home” of one of the young stars of the West Ham team that was relegated after the 2002-03 season has created differing opinions among Hammer fans. Some see the move as good business to go out and get a striker with a good goal scoring record and a history of decent fitness, others see the move as the team moving backwards by bringing in an aging player playing on a bottom-dwelling team and bringing aboard an ex-Hammer for emotional reasons. Both sides can point to evidence in their favor, with the transfer of ex-Hammer Joe Cole who starred for years with both Chelsea and the England national team being an example of a player who wasn’t the same after years of football, and the other side can point to Defoe’s fantastic scoring record over the past two years. Either way, Defoe is rumored to be available on a free transfer and is also rumored to want to go back to East London, so this is the most likely of all of the transfer rumors involving current Sunderland players.

Another name that has been mentioned more than once for a potential move to West Ham is Sunderland and Cote d’Ivoire defender Lamine Koné. A towering, physical force in the backline, his performances during last season, after a January transfer from French team FC Lorient, helped keep Sunderland in the Premier League last season. However, this season, during which he went on an AFCON 2017 adventure where he appeared on the bench but did not feature for Les Éléphants, he has not be the same player. Fans perceive his play as disinterested. Now part of it may be that he is bitter that the team’s performance has not lived up to the promises he was made by David Moyes when the manager convinced him to stay on the Wearside after a number of links last summer transfer window, but either way, he is not the most popular player that has been linked to a move to East London.

A new name that has recently creeped up in the rumor mill is Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford. The young goalkeeper is a rumored to be a target for multiple clubs, with West Ham’s name being added to a list of other Premier League clubs, such as Everton, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Tottenham, that are all joining the queue looking for a chance at acquiring the young star in the offseason. With the keeper being only 23 years old, he is a legitimate potential England international, having been part of the senior squad of England and will feature on the U-21 side that will be taking part in the European Championships this summer. With Darren Randolph and Adrian both having shaky performances this season, keeper is a position that has been on the club’s radar before. While this rumor could all just be agent talk to help bid up the price for Pickford, it’s something worth thinking about as some of the higher profile clubs on the list above could be seeking a “keeper for the future” instead of a “keeper for right now” and playing time could sway the young England international to transfer to East London.

As Hammer fans are all too aware, relegation usually means the departure of many of the club’s key players. West Ham, after all, famously lost generational talents, and Michael Carrick, after the relegation of 2002-03, and lost Scott Parker to hated rivals Tottenham after the relegation in 2011. While the fans might give some sympathy to the fans of Sunderland, they will no doubt be looking at some of the performances from some of the players wearing red and white stripes and wonder how they would look in Claret and Blue.