Birmingham City are reportedly showing interest in Sunderland’s promising 16-year-old central midfielder, Chris Rigg, in a bid to strengthen their squad ahead of the upcoming season.
The ambitious move could see Rigg reunited with former Sunderland manager and current Blues boss, Tony Mowbray. According to Sunderland Echo.
Rigg, who has already made nine appearances and scored two goals in all senior competitions this season, signed a two-year scholarship deal with Sunderland last summer. The Black Cats have high hopes for the youngster, planning to secure his first professional contract when he turns 17 later this summer.
The interest from Birmingham City comes ahead of their planned extensive squad overhaul during the upcoming summer transfer window. Knighthead is determined to make strategic signings to enhance competitiveness and ambition for the upcoming season as part of the project, with the club, by the time the new season arrives, will no longer be under FFP, players with high-earn wages set to leave and would be in good finances.
Despite Birmingham’s keen interest, they face stiff competition from football giants such as Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Liverpool, all reportedly vying for Rigg’s signature. The England U18s player has caught the attention of scouts, with Sunderland boss Michael Beale already integrating him into the first team.
Birmingham’s pursuit of Rigg is seen as a smart recruitment strategy, especially with anticipated departures from midfields Gary Gardner and Ivan Šunjić. As well, Krystian Bielik has been revert back to a central defender, and the club is preparing for a potential high-money transfer of Jordan James.
Sunderland boss Michale Beale spoke highly of the youngster, stating:
“It’s very hard for a player of his age to be any further forward than he is,”
“I like his mentality, it’s the mentality of a young boy from the local area who is living his dream, and it’s important that he keeps that because I think it could take him a long, long way.
“You can talk about the technique he’s got, the passing, but I think that mentality is his super strength. With all young players, it’s how long you can keep that. He can play a part now, if we play with two eights high or a flat three at times, he can give us real balance on the left of that.
“I was pleased with Riggy when he came on against Stoke, I was very pleased with him.
“We don’t want to talk about age because we believe in their talent, but for someone so young, he showed me that he wants to be involved, he doesn’t just want a bit-part role. He wants to play.
“I think it was always going to be the second half of the season that you were going to see him more, but that depends on a lot of factors doesn’t it. You always felt it would be that way but there’s always fitness and form [to consider] as well.
“He came on against Stoke and contributed, he’s got a no-fear mentality. He’s a lefty and that gives you a really good balance in the team, too. That’s really important to any possession-based team, like we are.”
As Birmingham’s recruitment team gears up for a bustling summer, Rigg emerges as a potential signing aligning with the vision for a revitalized blues side. The outcome, amidst competition from various teams and Sunderland vying for his professional contract, is yet to unfold as of this moment.