Sunderland have put themselves in a fantastic position to secure a spot in the League One play-offs this season after finding a run of form under Alex Neil – with the Mackems remaining unbeaten in their last eight games.
The Black Cats manager has taken 19 points from his 10 games in charge of the North-East club, winning five and drawing four in an impressive start to his tenure at the Stadium of Light, however, there must be credit given to a number of players that have contributed to a high level throughout the season.
One player who has been a particular standout for Sunderland is Daniel Neil, with the boyhood Mackem imposing himself perfectly in the midfield.
The 20-year-old has bagged three goals and registered the second-highest number of assists, seven, in the club’s 2021/22 League One campaign, however, his direct contributions to goals only claim a small fraction of the youngster’s success in the side.
Despite signing a long term contract with the club in October, Neil has been attracting interest from other clubs in a much better position, with Burnley reportedly keen to sign the £1.4k-per-week midfielder back in January.
With the mounting interest in the winter transfer window, there will no doubt be further interest this summer, and the club must do everything they can to keep hold of the youngster – as losing one of Sunderland’s biggest hopes for the future would be a complete disaster.
According to SofaScore, the central midfielder has made a huge impact over his 35 league outings, creating seven big chances for his teammates, as well as making an average of 1.2 key passes, completing 82% of his attempted passes and winning 1.3 tackles per game, proving that he is highly effective both going forwards and can also be relied upon to offer a presence in the middle of the park.
The former Black Cats boss, Lee Johnson, even compared the youngster to Paul Gascoigne when praising his influence on the side after becoming a more regular starter, saying:
“He’s got that lovely dribbling technique – a little bit like a young Paul Gascoigne almost in the way he pops and drags it at the same time. As a defender, it’s very difficult to commit because the minute you do, he’s got the ability to skip by you.”
Will Dan Neil leave Sunderland this summer?
Sunderland are now sixth in the table after an important win over Oxford United at the weekend, however, they must continue with their phenomenal run of form in order to keep them firmly in a play-off spot with tight competition in the League One table, and a win over Shrewsbury on Friday night should put them in the best position.