Who is… Sunderland’s new defender Jan Kirchhoff?


It wasn’t long after Sam Allardyce took charge at Sunderland in the autumn that he quickly realised a need for some signings to be made once January’s window opened up.

The former Bolton boss was particularly keen to improve his side’s defence, and with Youness Kaboul playing just once in the last month through injury, that keenness has become a necessity.

Allardyce has eyed up Bayern Munich outcast Jan Kirchhoff for some time and his arrival will bring a welcome bit of impetus to the Stadium of Light.

Kirchhoff is a former Germany U21 international, who signed for Bayern from FC Mainz in 2013.

A bright start at the Allianz Arena quickly faded into obscurity due to injuries and the tricky dilemma of trying to break into what has arguably been Europe’s best side of the last two years.

A loan spell at Schalke last season under Roberto Di Matteo provided some much-needed game time, but this term Kirchoff is yet to appear for Pep Guardiola’s Bayern, remaining an unnamed substitute seven times.

The 25-year-old should be coming into his prime however, and with his contract up in the summer, it made sense for both club and player to part ways six months early.

At 6ft 5in his frame should at least bring some much-needed physicality to what is going to be a battling few months if Sunderland are to avoid dropping into the Championship next season.

A youth career with Eintracht Frankfurt and Mainz has also handed Kirchhoff the oft-heard pitchside expression ‘good touch for a big man’, but a comfortable nature on the ball allied to excellent aerial ability should see Kirchhoff quickly feature in Sunderland team-sheets.

Wes Brown and John O’Shea were Allardyce’s go-to central pairing in Kaboul’s absence, but while the duo bring a wealth of quality experience, a combined age of 70 isn’t a particularly handy attribute in a relegation battle.

Throw in Kaboul’s injury-record, and it’s a quite clear that Jan Kirchhoff will be heavily relied on rather quickly on Wearside.

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