OTP revisits some of the transfers that the country’s largest clubs would rather forget…
10. Connor Wickham
Although Wickham may yet prove me wrong (and I hope he does), the £8million spent on him a year ago (with the potential to rise to £12million) does not look great business right now. He is still 19, but Wickham would have wanted to score more than one goal thus far, a knee injury curtailing his season considerably. If he pushes on, I will be happy to remove him from the list!
9. Craig Gordon
Gordon is a quality keeper (and the save in the video above validates this), but if you become the British record transfer for a goalkeeper and are then released on a free when your contract ends, all is not right. He played comfortably less than 20 league games per season whilst at Sunderland, and was not first choice for an extended period of time.
8. Emerson Thome
Bought from Chelsea (where he had not been a regular) for £4.5million, which seemed a massively excessive fee. After performing reasonably well, Thome began to struggle with injuries, and Sunderland did not want to extend his contract. Because playing 50 games for Sunderland would activate an extra fee, Thome was dropped from the team and allowed to join Bolton on a free transfer.
7. Rade Prica
The season after being the top scorer in the Danish league, the then 28-year-old was signed by Sunderland on a three-and-a-half year deal for a fee of around £2million. Having scored on his debut against Birmingham, coming off the bench, Sunderland then decided to never start the striker. He made just five more substitute appearances before being allowed to leave the club, whereby he promptly top scored in the Norwegian league in the next season.
6. Michael Chopra
Joined Sunderland for £5million from Cardiff, just a year after they had paid £500,000 for his services. The high fee and Chopra’s Geordie roots immediately infuriated Sunderland fans, and their fears were realised when the striker scored just eight league goals in two seasons. Chopra has recently admitted that he accepted the move due to the increased wages allowing him to pay off his gambling debts.
5. Milton Nunez
A ridiculous story. Sunderland genuinely thought that they were purchasing a great prospect, only to discover that Nunez had little to no experience of top flight football. So, having spent £1.6million on a duff product, they gave the Honduran one first-team game in two seasons, before letting him return to Nacional. Idiotic stuff.
4. Nicolas Medina
He was half-decent on an old version of Championship Manager, but that’s about as far as Medina got to success in England. When the Argentinian was signed for £3.5million aged just 19, Peter Reid described him as the complete midfield player, instantly setting up himself for the fall. He never even played for the first team, despite reports that he looked impressive in training. Quite why Medina was never given an opportunity is not known, but he went onto play for the Argentinian national side.
3. Lilian Laslandes
Bought in 2001 as the replacement for Niall Quinn, Laslandes never looked like making an attempt to settle into English football. He cost £3.6million, and fell out with manager Peter Reid shortly after playing his first 12 league games without scoring. He left Sunderland on loan after just six months (and still no league goals), before being loaned for a further season and then released on a free transfer.
2. Matt Piper
An awful tale of events, which leads you to questioning how thorough the medical was that Piper completed. Bought for £3.5million from Leicester, Piper played just 24 league games for Sunderland over a period of almost five years, but was forced to have ten operations in three years, eventually retiring after an underlying knee condition was discovered.
1. Tor Andre Flo
A decent player at Chelsea (if mainly as a backup), yes? He also performed well at Rangers, although for the most expensive player in SPL history and the highest fee ever for a Norwegian he should have done. But quite why Sunderland felt the need to spend £6.75million is a mystery. An intended replacement for Niall Quinn, the move stank of a panic buy, highlighted by the thoughts of fans and ex-players. He scored just four league goals for the club and completed just 11 games, before unbelievably being released on a free after a mere 18 months at the Stadium of Light.
Have we missed your favourite worst Sunderland signing? Let us know below.