Despite being ordered to fork out another €362,500 in solidarity payments for Ricky Alvarez to Velez Sarsfield by FIFA, Sunderland’s long-running saga with the player is not over yet.
The player himself has a case against Sunderland AFC at the Court of Arbitration for Sport scheduled for August, 27, likely regarding loss of earnings while Sunderland and Inter Milan argued over who owned Alvarez.
Sunderland initially signed Alvarez on-loan from Inter in the summer of 2014, paying a fee of €900,000 to loan the winger for the year from the Serie A club, with an automatic, but conditional, permanent transfer set for the end of the 2014-15 season.
The loan contract stated the following:
2.4. Subject to clause 2.6 below, parties further agree that, in the event that SUNDERLAND’s first team, at the end of the current Premier League - edition 2014/2015 obtains the right to participate in the next Premier League - edition 2015/2016 (independently from the performances, attendances, or physical conditions of the player during the season 2014/2015), the player shall be automatically and permanently transferred from Inter to SUNDERLAND starting from 1 July 2015. In this event, SUNDERLAND shall pay Inter, as fixed consideration for the permanent transfer of the player, the net amount of EUR 10,500,00.00 as follows:
a) EUR 2,500,000.00 on 31st August 2015;
b) EUR 2,500,000.00 on 31st August 2016;
c) EUR 2,500,000 on 31st August 2017;
d) EUR 3,000,000.00 on 31st August 2018;
e) after receipt of regular invoice, by bank transfer on the Inter current account above referred.
2.5. In the event that SUNDERLAND’s first team, at the end of the current Premier League - edition 2014/2015 does not obtain the right to participate in the next Premier League - edition 2015/2016 (independently from the performances, attendances, or physical conditions of the player during the season 2014/2015), the player shall return to Inter at the end of the loan period (30 June 2015).
2.6. Parties acknowledge and accept that the player has chronic patellar tendonitis in the left knee. In the event that the mentioned physical problem has accelerated during the season 2014/15 to a level that would result in the player being unable to play football at a professional level in the Premier League, then clause 2.4. shall not apply.
The contract clearly stated that the only way the Alvarez transfer would not become permanent were if Sunderland were to be relegated to the Championship at the end of the season or if the outstanding tendinitis in his left knee were to prevent him from playing at a professional level in the Premier League.
Alvarez would injure his right knee during a 0-0 draw against Swansea City in September of that season, which would limit his appearances during the remainder of the campaign.
Due to the lack of playing time because of the injury to the player’s right knee, Sunderland sought surgery, which Inter as his parent club did not consent to. That led Sunderland to attempt to terminate the transfer agreement, claiming his right knee injury was accelerated by the chronic tendonitis in his left knee - the one covered by the termination condition in the loan contract.
It transpired that the player had microfracture surgery on his right knee during 2012, something that was not communicated to Sunderland until March 2015, something the club used to try and void the agreement.
However CAS pointed out that an injury to the player’s right knee was discovered during his medical with Sunderland, with the club doctor suspecting the player had previously had a microfracture in his right knee, something the club chose not to follow up on at the time.
The player then passing a medical, without undergoing surgery on his right knee, with Sampdoria and playing 13 games out of a possible 18, before the case reached CAS also counted against Sunderland’s claims.
To add insult to injury, Inter Milan sent Sunderland a congratulatory email when they clinched their Premier League survival, reminding the club of their obligation to sign Alvarez.
So with at least one more case still outstanding in this whole Alvarez saga, the transfer is likely to cost Sunderland around £20m all told for a player who only played 17 times for the club and will go down as a symbol of the previous regime’s ineptitude.