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Friday 23 March 2018

Sunderland suffer biggest Premier League squad losses during transfer window

Sunderland were unable to bring Yann M'Vila back this summer
Sunderland were unable to bring Yann M'Vila back this summer

Sunderland manager David Moyes will need his summer signings to hit the ground running if he is to win the relegation battle he has forecast for his new side.

Press Association Sport figures show the Black Cats have suffered the greatest losses from last season's squad among the 20 Premier League clubs, who on Wednesday concluded their transfer business until January.

Along with Watford, Sunderland have seen four of last season's most-used starting XI move on while the departures from the Stadium of Light account for almost 42 per cent of last season's league starts and minutes played.

By contrast, perennial top-four challengers Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham - along with West Brom - have kept last season's most-used XIs together while Leicester have impressively lost only N'Golo Kante from last season's title-winning core.

United top the charts for stability, with 96.7 per cent of last season's starts and 95.4 per cent of minutes played belonging to players still at the club - though many of those may now find themselves as back-ups after the signings of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Moyes admitted last week that Sunderland's situation "can't dramatically change" from May's nail-biting escape, and the failure to complete a deadline-day deal for last season's loan star Yann M'Vila could be a setback to their hopes of progress.

M'Vila started 36 league games and played 3,189 minutes in 2015-16 and club-record signing Didier Ndong will have to quickly take up the slack, while £8million Papy Djilobodji, recruited from Chelsea, and loanee Jason Denayer must fill the central defensive void left by Younes Kaboul.

Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon's departure during last season, coupled with Vito Mannone's injury, leaves Moyes relying on youngster Jordan Pickford between the posts while full-back DeAndre Yedlin has also moved on.

Watford signed Kaboul but have lost Nathan Ake, Allan Nyom, Jose Manuel Jurado and Almen Abdi from last year's most-used XI. They and Sunderland - along with Swansea and Southampton, the two teams to have lost three first-team regulars - all go into the international break in the bottom seven of the Premier League table.

Watford are around the 70 per cent mark in terms of starts and minutes remaining from last season, with Swansea - who lost Ashley Williams, Andre Ayew and Bafetimbi Gomis - around 72 per cent and Southampton 75 after key men Victor Wanyama, Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane moved on.

By contrast, Pogba and Ibrahimovic can be seen as new toys for a settled United to enjoy and Tottenham's deadline-day capture Moussa Sissoko finds himself in a similar situation - Spurs' current squad features the players responsible for 95 per cent of their starts and 94 per cent of their minutes last season.

Arsenal and Chelsea are also comfortably above 90 percent, allowing them to perhaps ease the likes of Granit Xhaka and Michy Batshuayi into action.

And while Leicester need the combination of Daniel Amartey and Nampalys Mendy to fill N'Golo Kante's boots in midfield, Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani will join an otherwise settled side as they build an understanding with fellow forward Jamie Vardy.

Liverpool lost only the declining Martin Skrtel, Stoke replaced Philipp Wollscheid with Bruno Martins Indi on deadline day and Middlesbrough's only regular to depart, Albert Adomah, did so in a like-for-like swap that brought in Aston Villa's Adama Traore.

Bournemouth and West Ham also lost only one of their most-used XI while for all the upheaval of Hull's summer, only play-off final hero Mohamed Diame has left from their first-choice team as injuries account for their other absences.

Press Association

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