Sunderland have been linked with some big names over the years, which in some circumstances could have led to a complete turnaround from where the club is now.
There is no touted move with more potential to have done this than when the Black Cats were linked with Virgil van Dijk back in 2015.
Gus Poyet even recently came out to claim that he had watched him in the Dutch league when he worked for Brighton & Hove Albion, so whilst he was manager of the Wearside club he was “very, very interested” in the then-Celtic defender.
In fact, the Daily Mail even reported that they had an £8m bid lined up for the defender.
It all could have been so different had Sunderland just taken the plunge on the Dutchman who was on fire for the Scottish champions.
He has since gone on to win nearly everything at the Reds whilst being crowned the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and UEFA men’s Player of the Year in 2019. CIES Football Observatory even rates the defensive “monster” at €50m (£45m) nowadays.
The 31-year-old, for a period, was widely recognised as the best centre-back in world football and has been mentioned in conversations with some of the greatest ever to do it.
Not only was he immense for the Saints, where he recorded a 7.48 SofaScore rating during the 2016/17 season, but also the £75m fee they ultimately received would surely have gone a long way towards preventing the massive slump they faced.
So many things would have been different had they just taken the risk, and this transfer will forever remain one of the biggest ones that got away from Sunderland.