In recent years Sunderland have had enough heartbreak with the loan system - it’s a wonder Adele and Taylor Swift haven’t written albums on the subject.
Marcos Alonso, Danny Rose, Danny Welbeck, Jonny Evans… I'm getting emotional now just thinking about it. What about the ones that have actually stuck it out for the long term - how did they fare?
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the players we signed over the years as a result of loan spells at the club.
Mart Poom - my hero, my mate.
The Poominator joined Sunderland on a permanent deal in January 2003 after joining on loan from Derby County in November of the previous year. He was one of my first ever heroes in a Sunderland shirt - as a goalkeeper I spent many carefree days throwing myself around in my "Poom 1" ‘keeper top, saving the vital spot kick to win the cup for Sunderland (well, in my mind I was anyhow).
I wasn’t alone in my appreciation of the Estonian stopper - his commanding goalkeeping style won him many admirers and he wrote himself into Sunderland folklore when he headed in a 90th minute equaliser against former club, Derby County.
Poom was part of the Sunderland team that reached the FA Cup and Playoff semi-finals in 2004, as well as the Championship winning side in 2005. Unfortunately, his time on Wearside was tarnished by injury and he ended up being loaned out to Arsenal, eventually replaced by the infamous Kelvin Davis.
After a brief loan spell at the back end of 2006, the likeable Hungarian signed for Sunderland from Spurs in January 2007 with Ben Alnwick going the other way.
Fülöp played a bit part role in the club gaining promotion and in the Premier League provided Craig Gordon with strong competition, proving to be a capable stand-in when called upon.
Tragically Marton died at the age of just 32, but he will forever hold a place in the hearts of the red and white army and the feeling was mutual. Before Sunderland took on Manchester City in the 2014 Capital One Cup Final he was quoted as saying:
I loved my time on Wearside. I’m just very pleased for the Sunderland fans. They were always great to me but they are great supporters generally, and I always thought the most remarkable thing about them was Sunderland’s away support, how they always sold out away grounds wherever we went.
That’s one of the the reasons why I’m so glad to be going to Wembley this weekend - it will be great to see Sunderland fans packing out the ground and I hope they have an amazing, amazing day.
Despite probably being more famous for his dancing rather than for his footballing ability, the Egyptian was the only loan signing of the 2010-11 season to make the permanent switch to Wearside.
We were told he was 'the Egyptian Beckham', and as a result the Sunderland supporters were quite rightly excited. What we got, however, was rather underwhelming - though he was an honest trier, Elmo tended to struggle whenever the opposition double-marked him in games and he often went hiding when the pressure was on - a particular low point was his performance in the 5-1 at St James Park.
Whilst at Sunderland he was known for being the target of long diagonal balls from the goalkeeper and diving a fair bit. Few fans were too disappointed to see him leave the club.
I touched on unrequited love in the introduction, and in the case of Fabio Borini it looked set to be the ultimate case of the one that got away.
He won the hearts of Sunderland fans throughout the 2013-14 season after some vital goals, passionate celebrations, and of taking the mick out of the mags. However, it all nearly turned sour - Gustavo Poyet pursued him all summer long, but in the end it wasn’t good enough as Fabio decided he wanted to fight for a spot in Liverpool’s first team.
In life some things are meant to be, and our favourite Italian completed a permanent transfer in August 2015 after a whirlwind couple of days.
Things haven’t been plain sailing since his return though, with the player often frustrated at being left out of the team initially - he appeared disinterested at the start of last season, and didn’t net his first goal until he scored a consolation at Stamford Bridge in December.
After Christmas his form improved and the old Fabio was back - his work rate is tremendous and he has formed a real affinity with the club and the fans, as well as scoring some vital goals that secured the points we needed to stay alive last season. Although he can be frustrating at times, Sunderland without Fabio just doesn’t seem quite right.
Santiago babyyyyyy... Santiagoooo, woahh woahh!
Vergini - where do we start with him?
During his loan spells at the club he was often infuriating, and though he was capable of looking composed, assured and classyhe was also responsible for many at the Stadium of Light going grey. Of course, there was that own goal at Southampton which will be shown on gaff DVDs presented by moderate TV presenters and comedians for years to come.
Then, there was that moment in the return fixture where he decided to try and backheel the ball away right at the end of the match which nearly cost us all three points and potentially survival. Despite that, a lot of fans still retain a bit of affection for the temperamental Argentinian. His best display probably came in a goalless draw against the Chelsea where he nearly scored after a great bit of skill on the edge of the area.
Unfortunately for Vergini, Dick Advocaat deemed him surplus to requirements and despite being obliged to sign him, Santiago’s last appearance for Sunderland came in an under 21s friendly at Tow Law Town.
Not exactly a dream ending for the dreamboat.