Although Sunderland were expected to do very well at the start of the season, young forward Josh Maja, who was previously considered as a player for the future, probably wouldn’t have been pinpointed as the man to really get them going, though as the season has progressed over the first ten weeks or so, the 19-year-old has made a name for himself as not only one of Sunderland’s most important players, but as one of the most capable in the entire division.
Goals, goals, goals
Having scored to bring Sunderland back into the game against Charlton on the opening day, the youngster has sprung into life in the third tier this season. Since netting against Charlton first time out, Maja has scored with regularity. The forward also bagged Sunderland’s only goal in a 1-1 draw away at Luton on match-day two, while his scoring run continued until match-day five, as the teenager notched against booth Scunthorpe and Gillingham.
As things stand, after he struck yet again when Sunderland beat Bradford by two goals to one away from home last time out, Maja has nine goals in twelve league games for Sunderland during the current campaign, which is an impressive total, one that leaves the youngster from Lewisham with nobody ahead of him in the League One goal-scorers table. Interestingly, Maja had scored just one goal in 16 appearances for the Black Cats prior to the start of the new campaign, so this is turning out to be something of a breakthrough season for the striker.
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Sunderland have recorded some big wins, so it would be easy to assume that Maja hasn’t had as big an effect as his nine goals suggest. After all, plenty of strikers accumulate respectable totals by getting on the score-sheet when their team is comfortable and thus they’re simply taking advantage of a game stat that allows them to play with freedom. However, that’s not really been the case for the Black Cats’ chief goal-getter.
Six of Maja’s nine goals have come at crucial moments. He notched an important equaliser on match-day one, scored the only Sunderland goal in a 1-1 draw against Luton, while the teenager has either opened the scoring or secured at least a point for his side with four of his other seven goals.
By scoring a variety of goals, often at big moments, and generally offering a positive contribution when on the pitch, Maja, who has scored at least once in eight of his twelve league matches this season, has become one of Sunderland’s most important players. If they are to confirm pre-season favouritism and clinch the League One title, or at least win promotion, then Josh Maja is the man that can lead them to glory.
Staying at the club
The problem for teams plying their trade at this level is that the sharks start circling as soon as a younger player starts to thrive. Maja’s fine form this season hasn’t gone unnoticed, so it’s far from out of the question that Championship, and even Premier League, clubs come knocking once the January transfer window opens.
After Saturday’s goal against Bradford, Maja has become the subject of transfer talk, talk that involved some of the biggest clubs in the English game. Southampton, Tottenham and even Premier League champions Manchester City are reportedly keeping tabs on the Sunderland youngster.
Tying Maja down to a new contract, one that will at least ensure that he remains at the Stadium of Light until the end of the campaign must be a priority for the Black Cats.
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