Sunderland could replace Ekwah with surprise January move

Michael Beale will hope Sunderland can get back to winning ways after a demoralising loss to Ipswich Town last game has been left to linger in the air on Wearside, disrupting any positive green shoots the ex-Rangers boss was helping to cultivate at the Stadium of Light to date.

Two wins and a draw after losing 3-0 to Coventry City in his debut match in charge showed signs that the 43-year-old manager was beginning to work his magic, just for all the growing optimism to evaporate in an instant with back-to-back defeats to Newcastle United and the Tractor Boys.

Beale could well look to sign this ex-Sunderland star to get the disgruntled Black Cats fanbase back on side, with the former player in question eager for a return to happen.

Surprise move for Sunderland

French outlet FootMercato have reported that ex-Black Cats defensive midfielder Yann M’Vila could potentially return back to Sunderland this transfer window, with the 33-year-old free agent a “top priority” for the Championship promotion chasers according to the report.

It’s stated that discussions have taken place this winter, a statement backed up by journalist Santi Aouna who also confirmed that contact has taken place between Beale’s side and the Frenchman regarding the experienced midfielder’s agent, with a move potentially on the cards if everything goes to plan.

In December, M’Vila even spoke to Le Proges about his desire to return back to Sunderland despite the club now being outside of the Premier League – “There is only one club for which I would have agreed to return to the lower division for, it is Sunderland, to help them return to the Premier League. I had an extraordinary year there.”

It could well be a free transfer deal that suits all parties therefore, with the Black Cats regaining a seasoned head who left a lasting impression on the Stadium of Light faithful with just one impactful season in a Sunderland strip before moving on.

M’Vila’s first spell at Sunderland







Yellow cards






Tackles per game


Interceptions per game


Key passes per game


Stats via WhoScored & Transfermarkt.

How Yann M’Vila would fit into the Sunderland team

Loaned out to the then Premier League side for one season during the 2015/16 campaign from Rubin Kazan, M’Vila became an instant fan favourite in Sunderland quarters.

Utilised as a combative presence in the centre of the park, the Frenchman’s high energy and tenacity was also matched by a knack of contributing with goals and assists – helping himself to one goal and five assists during his brief time on Wearside, with this solitary strike being a sumptuous free-kick versus Aston Villa.


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Former Sunderland teammate Ola Toivonen described M’Vila as being a “quality player” at the time, with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal linked with a move for the imposing midfielder before a move to the Black Cats even happened.

6-foot M’Vila could well slot into the team next to Dan Neil seamlessly if Pierre Ekwah departs this January, offering the Black Cats an aggressive but forward-thinking midfielder to match their homegrown man.

Ekwah has been in top form for the Black Cats this term, notably making a bullish 1.5 tackles per game, the most of any central midfielder in the squad. His one interception per match is also more than any other midfielder. Losing such a player, therefore, would be a loss. However, the equally tough-tackling M’Vila could make up for that blow.

Since leaving the Stadium of Light after this bright one-year loan deal was up, the 22-time France international has succeeded elsewhere and was notably impressive for Olympiakos last season.

Despite now being 33 years of age, which would make him a veteran-style figure in a young and inexperienced Sunderland group if signed, M’Vila’s approach on the pitch is still the same.

Against Panathinaikos in May last year – a hotly-contested derby match in Greece – the invaluable experience on M’Vila’s side to not let big occasions faze him shone through with the ageing midfielder winning four of his six duels alongside even hitting the woodwork after firing an effort on goal in an eventual 1-0 win for his side.


In stark contrast, Ekwah had a howler against the Magpies in the Tyneside Derby with a costly error helping Newcastle comfortably win 3-0.

Able to land M’Vila on a free transfer this January if everything works out, it’s a deal that could prove to be a fantastic bit of business and one that could see the popular ex-loanee roll back the years donning a Black Cats strip again.

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