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Sunderland: Gus Poyet had a nightmare with failed Toby Alderweireld swoop

Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman made a splash in the transfer market over the summer as he attempted to improve the squad ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

The likes of Jack Clarke, Edouard Michut, Daniel Ballard and Ellis Simms, among others, all came through the door to bolster then-manager Alex Neil’s team.

It remains to be seen whether or not they will be successes or failures on Wearside, either joining the list of flops or heroes in Sunderland folklore.

There are also players, however, who the Black Cats have wanted to sign over the years and failed to do so, with the club either looking back on them with regret or relief.

One talent who slipped from their grasp was centre-back Toby Alderweireld during Gus Poyet’s tenure at the club in the Premier League.

Has Speakman done a good job at Sunderland?





Belgian outlet Het Laatste Nieuws, via talkSPORT, reported in the summer of 2014 that Sunderland had agreed a deal with Atletico Madrid to sign the Belgium international, with a view to talks over a permanent move the following year.

Unfortunately, Poyet was unable to convince the defender to make the move to the Stadium of Light as Alderweireld ended up rejecting the transfer.

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He ended up signing for Southampton on loan and played 26 Premier League games for the Saints in 2014/15, which attracted interest from Tottenham and the London club snapped him up on a permanent deal from Atletico in 2015.

The enforcer, who was once described as “outstanding” by journalist Michael Bridge, went on to enjoy a fantastic career with Spurs as he made 236 appearances – including 25 in the Champions League – for the club in all competitions over the course of six years.

In his six seasons with Tottenham, he was named in the PFA Team of the Year once and played his part in Hugo Lloris keeping 76 clean sheets in that time.

Alderweireld, who was previously dubbed a “leader” by Paul Robinson, has also been capped 123 times by Belgium at international level and is currently playing for Royal Antwerp in his home country.

His statistics and achievements since making his first move to England in 2014 speak for themselves and show that Sunderland missed out on a chance to sign a top-quality, Champions League-level player under Poyet.

The then-Black Cats head coach was unable to persuade the Belgian machine to make the move and endured a nightmare as he had to watch on as the defender forged a terrific career for himself at Southampton and then Tottenham, instead of strutting his stuff at the Stadium of Light for the fans to enjoy his defending.

One that got away…