Life through a Lens: Dutch attacker in Sunderland switch
Sunderland, 15/8 Premier League relegation chances with Coral this term, have signed Netherlands international forward Jeremain Lens from Dynamo Kiev on a four-year deal for a reported £8m.
The 27-year-old has won league titles in his homeland with AZ Alkmaar and Ukraine, plus domestic cups at PSV Eindhoven and Kiev. Lens has played under compatriot and Black Cats boss Dick Advocaat twice before at those Eredivisie outfits.
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“I’m very happy to be a Sunderland player,” said Lens. “I think it is a good club and it is a great step for me to play in the Premier League. I followed the team last season following the arrival of Dick Advocaat and we have a good team, so as I said I’m really happy to be here.
“I’ve played for the Dutch national team and played a lot of games in Europe, but the Premier League is the main test so it will be really good to play some games here. I can play on the left wing, on the right wing and also as a forward.
“My qualities are that I’m fast, I can score goals and I can create chances so I’m hope that the supporters will see a lot of my qualities this season. I watched the derby against Newcastle United and the supporters were really amazing, so I’ve got a good impression of the fans and I hope they support us in the same way during the new season.”
Advocaat has inherited a best of British forward flavour at Sunderland, with winter window signing and ex-England international Jermain Defoe joining Scotland striker Steven Fletcher, Danny Graham and Connor Wickham as senior attacking options.
Goals were hard to come by at the Stadium of Light last season, however, with only relegated Burnley bagging fewer goals than the Black Cats. This is one area that the club must improve on if they are to haul themselves out of perpetual survival scraps.
Lens’ aforementioned flexibility may prove useful to Advocaat, who played 4-3-3 with Sunderland at the back end of last season.
At international level, Lens is still behind established Dutch strikers Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie in the pecking order, but both look to have limited shelf life in the Clockwork Orange set-up beyond next summer’s Euro 2016.
The Netherlands, 18/1 shots to be European champions, are far from certain to qualify for that tournament, but also have PSV poacher Luuk de Jong, who flopped on loan at Sunderland’s bitter rivals Newcastle United, and Wolfsburg frontman Bas Dost in their selection pool.
New Dutch national boss Danny Blind also has wide attackers Memphis Depay and Arjen Robben at his disposal, so Lens finds competition cut-throat to represent his country.