Sunderland's transfer trouble: How 19 signings produced precious few gems

The Advertiser Series: BAD BUY: Jozy Altidore is one of a number of high-profile signings who have failed to live up to their billing at Sunderland BAD BUY: Jozy Altidore is one of a number of high-profile signings who have failed to live up to their billing at Sunderland

IF, as is starting to look increasingly likely, Sunderland drop into the Championship this season, their disastrous dealings in the last two transfer windows will have played a major role in their demise. Nineteen players have moved to the Stadium of Light since the end of last season, and as Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson assesses, very few of the transfers have been a success

Summer

The Advertiser Series:

Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar, £6.8m) Miss

The most expensive of Sunderland’s 14 pre-season purchases, and surely the biggest flop. Altidore has scored one Premier League goal in 27 appearances and has never really looked like improving on his disastrous first spell in English football with Hull City.

Lacking pace and mobility, the American has finally been axed from the starting line-up in recent weeks, even though fellow striker Steven Fletcher is still injured.

Admittedly signed as one for the future, 21-year-old Ba has nevertheless disappointed as he has failed to establish himself in the first-team squad.

The Advertiser Series:

El-Hadji Ba (Le Havre, £380,000) Maybe

The French attacking midfielder has made two senior appearances in the FA Cup – scoring against Carlisle in the third round – but has spent most of his time in the Black Cats’ development squad.

A rare success story, Borini’s loan move from Liverpool has proved excellent business. The Italian has scored six goals this season, with three of the strikes coming in the latter stages of Sunderland’s thrilling Capital One Cup run.

The Advertiser Series:

Fabio Borini (Liverpool, Loan) Hit

Energetic and committed, the 23-year-old is one of the few players in the squad to have bolstered his reputation this term. As a result, Brendan Rodgers has already stated that he wants him back at Anfield next term.

The Advertiser Series:

Cabral (Basle, Free) Miss

The Swiss midfielder started the opening two games of the season, against Fulham and MK Dons, and then completely disappeared off the radar as Paolo Di Canio publicly questioned his commitment and ability to match the pace of the English game.

Currently on loan at Italian side Genoa, the 25-year-old signed a three-year deal when he moved to Wearside, so could yet find himself back in the North-East next season.

The Advertiser Series:

Ondrej Celustka (Trabzonspor, Loan) Miss

The Czech full-back was involved in the opening nine league games, and continued to be in and out of the side in the early months of Gustavo Poyet’s reign.

However, his limitations in terms of pace and creativity were gradually exposed, and having been replaced by Phil Bardsley, he has not started a Premier League game since New Year’s Day.

The Advertiser Series:

Modibo Diakite (Lazio, Free) Miss

Initially championed as the most impressive of Sunderland’s free signings last summer, Diakite started Di Canio’s final four games in charge of the Black Cats. He reappeared briefly to make three more starts over Christmas, but that spell was enough to convince Poyet of his failings.

Now on loan with Italian side Fiorentina, the 27-year-old is another player whose future will have to be decided in the summer. A permanent switch to Serie A looks likely.

The Advertiser Series:

Andrea Dossena (Torino, Free) Miss

Signed to provide a proven option at left-back, Dossena has been a disappointment in the majority of his first-team outings. He has made six Premier League starts, but his most memorable moment was probably the horror tackle at Hull in November that resulted in his dismissal.

Poyet gave Dossena a chance at an early stage of his reign, but his subsequent decision to bring in Marcos Alonso underlined his lack of faith in the Italian.

The Advertiser Series:

Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus, £6.5m) Miss

Hopes were high when Sunderland shelled out £6.5m to sign an established international from Juventus, but Giaccherini has failed to live up to his billing and has slowly slipped down the attacking pecking order under Poyet.

His early-season goals against Southampton and Liverpool hinted at promise, but he has only made one Premier League start since New Year’s Day and there is every chance Sunderland will look to sell him back to Italy this summer.

The Advertiser Series:

David-Moberg Karlsson (IFK Gothenburg, £1.5m) Miss

Like Ba, Karlsson was signed with half an eye on the future. And in a similar fashion to his team-mate, the 19-year-old Swede has so far shown little to suggest he is going to be a big hit on Wearside.

His only senior appearance for the Black Cats came in the League Cup win over MK Dons, and he has subsequently joined Kilmarnock on loan. However, in the last two months, he has only made two starts for the SPL side.

The Advertiser Series:

Vito Mannone (Arsenal, £2m) Hit

Di Canio and Roberto De Fanti did not get much right last summer, but the £2m capture of Arsenal’s reserve goalkeeper has proved a masterstroke. Mannone displaced Keiren Westwood at the start of November, and has been Sunderland’s established number one ever since.

Strong, decisive and a superb shot-stopper, Mannone has often formed a one-man defence against rampant opposition. He will deservedly end next month as Sunderland’s Player of the Season.

The Advertiser Series:

Charis Mavrias (Panathinaikos, £2m) Miss

Of all last summer’s catastrophic transfer dealings, the decision to shell out £2m for Greek winger Mavrias was arguably the worst. The 20-year-old was supposed to be an international-class wide man, but has looked out of his depth in all of his senior displays.

His only Premier League start came in last September’s defeat at Arsenal under Di Canio, and his only involvement in recent months has come in the development team.

The Advertiser Series:

Valentin Roberge (Maritimo, Free) Miss

French defender Roberge is another player who arrived on a free transfer with a decent reputation last summer, only to disappear from the first-team picture completely under Poyet.

Having started the opening-day defeat to Fulham, he briefly reappeared as Sunderland suffered defensive problems over Christmas. However, he has not featured in a league game since New Year’s Day and is unlikely to see out the remaining two years of his deal.

The Advertiser Series:

Ki Sung-Yueng (Swansea, Loan) Hit

One of the final summer arrivals on August deadline day, Ki’s loan move from Swansea has proved an astute piece of business. Polished and comfortable in possession, the South Korean has formed a major part of Sunderland’s first-choice midfield all season.

He hit a real purple patch around the turn of the year, and while his form has dipped slightly since then, Poyet will still be trying to sign him permanently if Sunderland can clamber to safety in their final eight games.

The Advertiser Series:

Duncan Watmore (Altrincham, Free) Maybe

Plucked from non-league obscurity with Altrincham, Watmore has established himself at reserve-team level and will hope to kick on to Sunderland’s senior squad next season.

The 20-year-old striker made a substitute appearance in the FA Cup win over Carlisle, and has scored one goal in four appearances during a loan spell at SPL side Hibernian.

January

The Advertiser Series:

Marcos Alonso (Fiorentina, Loan) Hit

Alonso arrived in January as Poyet attempted to plug a gaping hole at left-back, and while the Spaniard’s form has been somewhat up and down, he has generally acquitted himself well enough to justify his place in the team.

He was especially influential in the latter stages of the Capital One Cup run, and his willingness to get forward on the overlap has increased Sunderland’s attacking capabilities down their left flank.

The Advertiser Series:

Liam Bridcutt (Brighton, £3m) Miss

Poyet spent most of the January window trying to prise Bridcutt from Brighton, and the 24-year-old has been a permanent fixture at the base of midfield since switching the south coast for the Stadium of Light.

He impressed on his debut in the Tyne-Wear derby at Newcastle, and has generally looked comfortable in possession. However, the limitations of his attacking game have become increasingly clear and he has been unable to exert an influence over some key recent matches.

The Advertiser Series:

Ignacio Scocco (Internacional, £3.2m) Miss

By the start of January, it was clear that Sunderland desperately needed a striker to spearhead their survival push. Poyet pushed for the capture of Scocco, an Argentinian international. Suffice to say, it was not a wise move.

The 29-year-old has made four Premier League substitute appearances – and has not looked like scoring in any of them. It was always going to take him time to settle, so why bring in a player from South America at such a critical stage of the campaign?

The Advertiser Series:

Oscar Ustari (Almeria, Free) Maybe

Signed to provide cover for Mannone in the absence of the injured Westwood, Ustari has done what was asked of him since signing on a short-term deal from Almeria.

The Argentinian started the FA Cup games against Kidderminster, Southampton and Hull – saving a penalty in the latter - and has looked a reliable enough deputy.

The Advertiser Series:

Santiago Vergini (Estudiantes, Loan) Miss

Another player recommended by Poyet, Vergini has failed to have the desired impact since moving to England at the start of the year.

The Argentinian made his Premier League debut after Wes Brown was sent off against Hull, and has played in the last two games as part of a five-man defence. However, he has looked far from comfortable, particularly at Anfield last week, where he was regularly found wanting.

Comments (5)

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9:39am Thu 3 Apr 14

kable1879 says...

It's not just this season that the transfer dealings have been poor. Consider;
Westwood, Larsson (how on earth does he get a game?), Graham, Vaughan and Gardiner all abject failures at this level.
To a lesser extent the likes of; Brown, O'Shea, Johnson, Fletcher have also flattered to deceive.
Sad to say the current incumbent doesn't appear to recognise a player either....Sccocco makes Altidore look good and as for Bridcutt and Vergini the least said the better.
It's not just this season that the transfer dealings have been poor. Consider; Westwood, Larsson (how on earth does he get a game?), Graham, Vaughan and Gardiner all abject failures at this level. To a lesser extent the likes of; Brown, O'Shea, Johnson, Fletcher have also flattered to deceive. Sad to say the current incumbent doesn't appear to recognise a player either....Sccocco makes Altidore look good and as for Bridcutt and Vergini the least said the better. kable1879
  • Score: 5

5:14pm Thu 3 Apr 14

williamtell456 says...

Completely agree with other comment - transfers over a period of years have been a disaster and the problem is who would buy these under achievers.
Completely agree with other comment - transfers over a period of years have been a disaster and the problem is who would buy these under achievers. williamtell456
  • Score: 6

9:16pm Thu 3 Apr 14

5under1and says...

too many foreigners
too many foreigners 5under1and
  • Score: 3

9:03am Tue 8 Apr 14

John Shaft says...

since steve bruce ripped the pace that we had in the team it has been a steady decline from the sale of Bent and Gyan. the comments are 97% right in my opinion. The recruitment policy of SAFC needs to be scrutinised very , very ,very closely but questions also have to be asked as to exactly what players, skill levels and motivation the academy is supposed to be producing..???
since steve bruce ripped the pace that we had in the team it has been a steady decline from the sale of Bent and Gyan. the comments are 97% right in my opinion. The recruitment policy of SAFC needs to be scrutinised very , very ,very closely but questions also have to be asked as to exactly what players, skill levels and motivation the academy is supposed to be producing..??? John Shaft
  • Score: 0

1:18pm Tue 8 Apr 14

williamtell456 says...

A very good point about the Academy
A very good point about the Academy williamtell456
  • Score: 1

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