The lowdown: Career so far
Signed from Dutch outfit NAC Breda, the Netherlands youth international has spent time on loan at Heerenveen and Blackburn Rovers since arriving in England.
The 22-year-old is yet to make a debut for his parent club, but has had 78 senior outings during his career to date.
Despite interest from Blackburn in a second loan spell at Ewood Park, it appears as though Van Hecke could be heading for the Stadium of Light…
The latest: Season-long loan
As per the Lancashire Telegraph, Sunderland are expected to ‘secure’ the former Netherlands under-21 starlet on loan for the remainder of the season.
It’s claimed that Van Hecke will sign a new deal at Brighton before completing a switch to the Black Cats prior to the end of the transfer window.
The report also states that the youngster – who was described as an ‘intelligent’ operator by Seagulls boss Graham Potter – is now ‘likely’ to join Sunderland instead of returning to Blackburn.
The verdict: Smart signing
Despite Sunderland making a steady start to the 2022/23 Championship campaign, there remains room for further reinforcements in Alex Neil’s squad, particularly at the back having failed to keep a clean sheet before Saturday’s win over Stoke City and following Corry Evans’ injury blow.
Van Hecke was on the bench in the Premier League for Brighton’s opening two games of the season, highlighting how highly the Dutchman is regarded by Potter.
Last season, the 6 foot 3 defender earned an impressive 7.00 SofaScore rating whilst winning 5.8 duels and making 3.4 clearances and 1.5 interceptions per game, helping to keep 11 clean sheets in 31 outings. For context, only Danny Batth had a higher clearances average among Sunderland’s squad in 2021/22, while no Black Cats player had a better interceptions average.
Combined with a need for defensive stability, that form would make the commanding Van Hecke a superb addition to Neil’s ranks, and hopefully this is a deal which can become a reality.
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