Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman endured a frustrating January transfer window as the club lost Ellis Simms – who returned to Everton – and striker Ross Stewart was ruled out for the rest of the season.
Despite losing their two senior options through the middle of the pitch, the Black Cats were only able to bring in one striker as they signed Joe Gelhardt on loan from Leeds.
The 20-year-old has scored once in six Championship starts to date and it remains to be seen whether his presence will be enough to mitigate the losses of Simms and Stewart.
Sunderland have not always had the best of luck with signing new centre-forwards over the years and one attacker who ended up being a flop was Fabio Borini, who joined from Liverpool in 2015.
How did Fabio Borini perform at Sunderland?
The Italian forward had already enjoyed a sensational season on loan from Anfield at the Stadium of Light in the 2013/14 campaign. He struck seven times in 32 Premier League appearances and managed three goals in five League Cup outings – including the opening goal of the final in a 3-1 loss to Manchester City.
His impressive form on Wearside led to Liverpool giving him another chance in 2014/15 but the attacker only played 12 times in the league for the Reds with that opening up the door for the Black Cats to bring him back.
In the summer of 2015, then-Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat snapped him up on a permanent deal in a package worth £10m, including £8m up front, in the hope that the dynamo could recapture the form he displayed on loan at the club.
Instead, the striker had a fairly underwhelming campaign in 2015/16, scoring five goals and averaging a Sofascore rating of 6.70 – ranking him 15th in the squad – in 26 outings.
The 5 foot 11 forward followed that up by scoring just twice in 24 Premier League outings – averaging a Sofascore rating of 6.69 – in 2016/17 as the Black Cats were relegated from the top flight.
Sunderland’s relegation to the Championship ultimately resulted in the one-time Italy international leaving to join AC Milan on loan for the 2017/18 campaign.
At the time of his loan exit, journalist Josh Bunting criticised his dismal performances for the Black Cats, Tweeting: “When Borini wants to be good he is but his attitude is all wrong gave up last season, Serie A also suits him much better than the Prem.”
After a year with the Italian giants, in which he scored twice again – this time in 29 league matches – Borini then signed for Milan on a permanent basis for £5m.
As a result, it’s evident that Advocaat had a shocker by signing the forward in 2015. The Italian flop struggled in both of his two full Premier League seasons with the club before leaving for half of the total package they paid for him, with that a marker of the poor deal they got both from a footballing and a financial perspective.
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