Sunderland have been no stranger to transfer gaffes over the years as they have spent big on players and been left with egg on their face after they have failed to deliver on the pitch.
The Black Cats have had expensive flops, as well as bargain signings, in transfer windows gone by but they have also missed out or avoided deals for players who have gone on to be terrific at the top level.
Managers, sporting directors, and owners all have to make big decisions every single window when it comes to who the club will pursue and sign to improve the team, with the hope that they will get more calls right than wrong.
One decision Sunderland, and manager Steve Bruce at the time, got badly wrong was avoiding a swoop to sign striker Luis Suarez from Ajax in 2010.
Chief scout Ricky Sbragia sent scouts to watch the forward in action as Bruce wanted a strike partner for Darren Bent ahead of the 2010/11 campaign.
However, the manager opted to move for Asamoah Gyan ahead of the South American marksman and this turned out to be a huge error by the English coach.
He impressed enough for Ajax in the first half of 2010/11 to convince Liverpool to sign him in January, six months on from Sunderland’s interest in him, and he went on to produce 69 goals and 40 assists in 110 Premier League matches for the Reds.
Former Anfield defender Jamie Carragher once lauded the superstar’s talent, saying:
“He is simply one of the greatest players who ever played for the club (Liverpool). Talk about all-time greats and he is in the top five. The goals he scored and the way he played was mind-blowing.
“You could see he was going to be great the moment he walked into Melwood and got on the training pitch. [ . . . ] Luis came in and just took our breath away on the training pitch. You could see we had a top, top talent and that talent reached a pinnacle for Liverpool at the end of 2013 and in the first half of 2014. He was unplayable at times. Perfect.”
Suarez did not stop there, though, as he joined Spanish giants Barcelona in 2014 and enjoyed a sensational spell with the Catalonian outfit. He ended his time there with 195 goals and 113 assists in 283 games in all competitions, which works out at 1.09 goal contributions per match.
The striker, who now plays for Nacional in Uruguay, proved himself at the very top level over the course of a number of years and Sunderland could have benefitted from his talent on the pitch if they had snapped him up in 2010.
Bruce may look back on his decision to go for Gyan ahead of Suarez as one of the “what if?” moments of his career at the Stadium of Light. The forward’s statistics suggest that he would have been a phenomenal player for the Black Cats, which is why it was a huge error to go against a move for the then-Ajax man.