As Alvarez Hearing Date Looms, Sunderland Have a Decent Case
Ricardo Alvarez - he came, he wasn't very good, he went.
Except, it wasn't as simple as that. In fact, it's all got rather complicated. Next week, these two statements of claim will be heard by the Court of Arbitration in Sport:
9 December 2016
CAS 2016/A/4588 FC Internazionale Milano v. Sunderland AFC
CAS 2016/A/4589 Sunderland AFC v. FC Internazionale Milano
Inter Milan and Sunderland - the two clubs who didn't want Ricardo Alvarez - will present their cases as to whether one should pay the other €10.5m for him. But at the end of it, neither will welcome the player into their squads, because neither retains any claim over him.
Alvarez is now with Sampdoria, and doing rather well. He scored last night to give his new club the initiative in a game against Cagliari in which they eventually triumphed 3-0.
Sunderland and Internazionale relinquished their right to Ricky Alvarez' registration long ago in their protracted dispute over whether a buy-on clause was legally triggered when Dick Advocaat staved off relegation in 2015.
Inter will argue the clause in the loan agreement between the two clubs was cut-and-dried and previously agreed - Sunderland avoided relegation and were obliged to pay the agreed fee for his permanent transfer.
Sunderland will counter-claim that Inter Milan failed to reveal the extent of the knee injury that the player arrived at the Stadium of Light with. Alvarez' knee had a tiny hairline fracture and ruled him out for much of the 2014-15 season, four months in fact. It took Sunderland's medical staff some finding initially, and then took some putting right.
Sunderland's legal team will argue Inter did not inform them of the injury which the Italian club had known about all along. They will also point to 'evidence' from the player himself who supposedly admitted that he had carried the fracture for some time.
In truth, Sunderland have a strong case. They would not have pursued the matter to the highest tribunal in sport if they believed it to be a weak one. But, they have suffered a blow previously in the saga when lesser arbitration committees ruled in Inter's favour.
The worst elements of the Italian media have been the only source of information for much of the protracted argument. Most of them have simply made up stories to make themselves feel better - especially watching the player regularly performing in Serie A knowing that Inter received no cash for letting him go. Italians are a proud race after all.
Anichebe 'Officially' Fourth Best Player In The Prem Last Month
Not a bad impact was it? Victor Anichebe marked his re-arrival on the Premier League stage, sporting a freshly bulked up figure, with two goals and an assist in November.
The 28-year-old hitman featured as a nominee in the PFA 'Fans Premier League Player of The Month' award, polling fourth out of the six nominees.
Chelsea full-back and Big Vic's fellow Nigerian, Victor Moses, won the award but Anichebe was officially 'better' than Sergio Aguero last month (and Matt Phillips).
The 'expert panel' includes Sky Sports pundits Peter Beagrie and Paul Merson, Mike Riley – general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials, and Malcolm Clarke – chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation.
The challenge now, of course, for the player who has rarely managed to achieve a consistent level of form in his career, is to keep it up.
Spare a thought for this Newcastle fan who was convinced his team were on the verge of a trip to Wembley at quarter-to-ten on Tuesday night, just before the penalty shoot-out which sent the Magpies out of the League Cup.