The 2016/17 season is unlikely to be one that lives fondly in the memory of Sunderland supporters.
It marks the last campaign they were in the Premier League and since then, they have been falling down the Football League as years go by.
They suffered an immediate relegation from the Championship in 2017/18 and they have been in League One ever since.
Times are changing, however, and under the stewardship of Lee Johnson, they look well placed to go up.
The latter has been linked with a £2m permanent switch this summer, but why is this all relevant? Well, a defender in the mould of Sanderson’s that Sunderland had during that torrid relegation campaign has become one of the most imperious in Europe.
That happens to be Jason Denayer. The centre-back was on loan from Manchester City in 2016/17 and ended up playing 27 times for the Mackems.
Denayer’s arrival under David Moyes was a solid one for the Black Cats. He won Celtic’s Young Player of the Year award in the 2014/15 campaign, whilst he was also named the best young player in the entire Scottish Premiership.
However, he couldn’t replicate that sort of form in the north-east. Denayer left having been unable to stop Sunderland from falling into the second tier.
Since then, however, he’s become a real force. He was valued at just £3.6m by Transfermarkt when he left Sunderland and now he’s valued at £18m; an increase in value by a considerable £14.4m.
It’s easy to say this is one of that got away, but the club’s own plight played a big role in failing to secure his services permanently.
After departing, Denayer has come on leaps and bounds. The £57k-per-week defender left Man City for Lyon and played a key hand in the French side reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League last term.
The 25-year-old was involved in Lyon’s 3-1 win over Manchester City while he also kept a clean sheet against Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo in their 1-0 victory against Juventus.
Speaking about the defender after he initially signed for the French side, recruitment chief of OL, Florian Maurice, said: “He has all the characteristics we sought: he can play in every role across the defence, he’s got game intelligence, a good positional sense, he’s quick and he’s powerful in duels.”
Denayer is quite clearly not the type of player we saw at the Stadium of Light. Instead, he is now fighting for championships at the elite level. How times change.