Patrick van Aanholt has officially left Sunderland and signed for Crystal Palace. The 26-year-old is reunited with former boss Sam Allardyce and swapped the prospect of a third relegation battle at the Stadium of Light for his maiden survival mission at Selhurst Park.
The Dutch defender had handed in a transfer request at Sunderland which was granted by the club and he leaves for an undisclosed fee; though the deal is thought to be worth £10m rising to a potential £14m with add-ones - pretty decent business for a fullback, even in today's crazy market.
Sam Allardyce had hailed his new arrival and somehow kept a straight face whilst over-egging the Dutchman's abilities just a little. Big Sam described van Aanholt as a 'major saviour' before claiming the narrow escape from relegation which he oversaw last season was a 'success story':
I think he was a major saviour in our run last season at Sunderland and he was a huge part of that success story.
Now, Big Sam has always been a man to enhance his own abilities and last season's survival run at Sunderland was pretty impressive considering the abject state of the squad the now former-England boss inherited; but to claim it as a 'success story' seems somewhat jarring considering the team he oversaw limped to safety with just two points separating us and Newcastle who went down.
It was Allardyce himself who proclaimed that Sunderland should no longer celebrate survival as if the club has won something. So to claim finish fourth-bottom of the Premier League was a fairy-tale seems a little liberal with the dismal reality of what last season was actually like until the final fortnight.
So van Aanholt is Sam Allardyce's issue now and Sunderland move on. The 26-year-old has always felt like he was one of the longest serving players at the club, despite having only been signed two-and-a-half years ago. Such has been the turnover of managers and playing personnel at the Stadium of Light coupled with a perpetual state of panic which has been enough to age anyone associated with this torrid club.
Indeed, for quite a period of time, a fair few supporters assumed Patrick van Aanholt was but a youngster, such was his apparent naivety on the pitch. But many thought he would 'come good' one day with a little patience. That day did arrive in the latter part of last season as Allardyce galvanised the club and led Sunderland to safety with little room to wriggle.
Van Aanholt played eighty-two times for Sunderland during his spell on Wearside, and scored seven goals - the most recent coming the last time we managed a victory against Watford six weeks ago. He has done well for the club - on balance, and on reflection - even if many of us felt like lamping him on more than one occasion.
His highlights for the club include scoring Sunderland's first goal on the night Everton were well beaten to confirm Premier League survival in May; a stonking showing against Swansea last season which started to win over doubters and a smattering of goals which have won and saved points - and of course turning out with his name spelt wrong on the back of his shirt last season.
The hefty fee for selling van Aanholt to a relegation rival is one thing; but perhaps the best bit of business Sunderland conducted with their now-former Dutch left-back was tying him down on a four-year contract extension in the summer just gone which has maximised his value.