Sunderland’s failure to land primary target Fabio Borini was arguably the motivation behind Gus Poyet’s refusal to celebrate the Black Cats’ business in the summer transfer window.
The rarely reticent Uruguayan stopped short of criticising his side’s activity, but did state:
“It’s very easy to say that I’m happy because then everybody will be delighted with my words. But at the same time, I am not happy. I am all right.”
Nine new names have been printed on the back of barbershop-striped shirts over the course of the summer, but a failure to procure Borini and Marcus Alonso, two players who were crucial to the club’s survival last season, has stuck in Poyet’s craw.
Inter Milan’s Ricardo Alvarez was loaned in to compensate for the omission of the former, while Chelsea’s Patrick van Aanholt was the man sounded out to fill Alonso’s left-back berth.
Silver medal signings they may be, but the duo can prove just as valuable to the Wearsiders, although perhaps not via identical means.
Alvarez, for instance, was lauded as one of the finest playmakers in the Argentinian league during his Velez Sarsfield days, almost signing on at Arsenal before being conscripted by the Nerazzurri.
Last season he scored four goals for the San Siro side, assisting eight more, boasting an average close to two key balls per match and a pass completion rate of 88.6 per cent.
Borini, the man he’ll be replacing, played a mean of 0.8 key passes per outing, while he only provided two assists.
A tally of seven goals hardly towers over Alvarez’ Serie A effort, nor does it warrant overlooking his almost inconsequential creative output.
Meanwhile, Van Aanholt’s swashbuckling start to life in the north east has already gone some way to justifying Sunderland’s bargain-bin £1.5m outlay on him.
He’s averaged a mammoth six tackles per appearance, suggesting he’s just as feisty as predecessor Alonso, while his prowess going forward is epitomised by the fact he’s set a goal up in his first three matches.
Both will be vying to give their manager cause to redact his reservations surrounding the club’s summer dealings in helping the Black Cats attempt to usurp the massive 12/5 outsider status they’ve been handed for this weekend’s fixture with Tottenham.