It would seem that the year of 2019 was one for Sunderland transfer blunders.
In the January window, Stewart Donald failed to cover himself in much glory when he made a complete hash of their aims to sign a new striker.
Once Josh Maja left, the club were looking to add two new forwards but it took them until the dying embers of deadline day to land just one.
That, of course, was Will Grigg. The Mackems had failed with several bids after former Director of Football Richard Hill left the deal in Donald’s hands.
In the end, he paid considerably over the odds. Grigg set Sunderland back £4m and with it, he has only delivered eight goals. He has been a crippling burden on the club’s finances and it may have stopped them from pulling off a better deal in the summer window later in the year.
The player we’re talking about here is Marcus Maddison. The attacking midfielder grew up a boyhood Black Cats fan and they very nearly signed him but for the finances of the deal.
Speaking about a potential move in August 2019, Hill said: “I had a conversation with Barry Fry and it was about all things football as our conversations are. On this occasion Marcus Maddison was mentioned and I was asked if there was any interest, and was informed that there was a buy out clause in his contract of £2.5m – I said that at that money he was not for me.”
Compared to Grigg, Maddison was cheap as chips, especially for someone who has dominated League One. Last season he netted 11 goals and registered eight assists, proving himself to be a considerable goal threat.
Hill continued: “What I will say, though, is at the end of this season when Marcus Maddison’s contract has expired, then that’s a totally different conundrum in my opinion.”
Unfortunately for the Mackems, he joined Charlton on a permanent deal instead. Sunderland were never in the picture.
Now, had Hill coughed up the £2.5m at the time, it’s incredibly likely they will have had a far greater shot at promotion. After all, their top scorer last season only found the net on ten occasions – lower than Maddison’s tally.
That will have been a lot of money but Donald certainly hasn’t been afraid to wave the cheque book around. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but the 27-year-old is a tremendously gifted player.
Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth once labelled him “the best player in League One.” That tells you all you need to know.
Sunderland made a massive mistake not bringing him to the Stadium of Light last year.