By IVES GALARCEP
The Jozy Altidore transfer saga had the makings of a long and drawn-out affair, with clubs from all over Europe lining up and expressing interest, but rather than be treated to months of speculation, Altidore has sealed a transfer move in just a matter of days.
The U.S. Men’s National Team striker is joining English Premier League side Sunderland, Altidore announced on his personal website on Friday. Neither AZ or Sunderland has officially announced the move yet, but Altidore’s website states the American star will undergo a physical to complete the move on Monday.
(UPDATE- The page announcing Altidore’s signing is no longer his personal website, but sources tell SBI the disappearance of the story is related to the website crashing, and was not pulled intentionally. Also, ESPN is reporting that Altidore’s transfer to Sunderland is complete.)
The Black Cats, managed by Paolo DiCanio, was the first team to make a serious bid for Altidore, and after having an initial bid rejected, came back with an acceptable offer that AZ has accepted.
Altidore joins a Sunderland attack that features forward Steven Fletcher, who finished with a team-leading 11 goals last season. The Black Cats, owned by billionaire American Ellis Short, are planning to be busy in this transfer season, with a top priority being the bolstering of an attack that finished with the third-fewest goals scored in the Premier League last season.
Altidore returns to the Premier League three years after spending a season there on loan to Hull City. The 2009-2010 Hull season was a forgettable one, with the Tigers being relegated, but Altidore’s struggles that year had as much to do with an anemic offense than his own shortcomings. That said, he is a much better and more well-rounded player now than he was three years ago.
The transfer comes after two outstanding seasons with AZ, including a 31-goal campaign that saw him finish as his team’s leading scorer for a second straight year, setting a record for goals by an American in a foreign league in the process.
Altidore will join a Sunderland side that narrowly avoided relegation last year, finishing 17th, just four points clear of safety.
My initial thoughts on the move? Playing alongside Steven Fletcher will only serve to benefit Altidore, especially if Sunderland succeeds in bolstering the midfield in the transfer market. It isn’t the high-profile move some USMNT fans were hoping for, but it does put Altidore in a position to play regularly in a top league and showcase himself to bigger clubs ahead of the World Cup.
What do you think of this move? Love the idea of Altidore returning to the Premier League? Think he can enjoy success in the EPL? Worried about this move coming before the 2014 World Cup?
Share your thoughts below.