Sunderland have had a horrible habit in recent years of letting their academy gems walk through the exit door for not very much money.
Sam Greenwood was one of the first to start the trend. He departed Sunderland for Arsenal in 2018 and is now on the cusp of senior football with Leeds United.
Josh Maja is the most high profile case. His agent convinced him his future lay elsewhere and he left for Bordeaux in January 2019. Now playing at Fulham in the Premier League, there seems to be a familiar trend here.
Other young prospects like Joe Hugill, Bali Mumba, Luke Hewitson, Morten Spencer and Logan Pye have also all departed.
Though, if you cast your mind back to 2014, there is a name who is arguably doing better things than any of those mentioned above.
That happens to be John Egan. The centre-back never made a first-team appearance for the Mackems before being released seven years ago.
He subsequently joined Gillingham on a free transfer, before moving to Brentford and then Sheffield United.
The Irishman has been a wonderful presence in the Blades’ backline, very rarely missing a game. He played 44 matches during their promotion-winning campaign from the Championship in 2018/19 and since they were promoted, he’s been absent for only two games.
During that time, the 28-year-old has become an established international, earning 12 caps for his country, the Republic of Ireland.
Egan has very much become a classic case of one who got away. The defender is Premier League proven and was part of a backline that proved one of the best in the top-flight last term.
Egan has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years, being described as “rock-solid” by Chris Wilder.
It’s unsurprising, therefore, that his value has risen so dramatically. Released on a free transfer by Sunderland all those years ago, he is now rated at an eye-catching £9m by Transfermarkt.
That kind of fee is one to bulk at, especially for a club now plying their trade in League One. As the Black Cats tumbled down the leagues, it would have been difficult for them to keep hold of him.
That being said, they got rid of him at a time when they were in the Premier League. He has since proven he is up to the challenge of performing at that very level.