Sunderland have assembled a squad to be proud of this season containing some players who have played through tough times at the Stadium of Light, and others looking to grab their first opportunity in the EFL.
It has been a tricky few years but the Black Cats seem to have turned a corner in their transfer strategy and are now reaping the rewards on the pitch.
Lee Johnson and Sunderland, like many other Football League clubs, seem to have prioritised youth development in their transfer policy and have added very precocious talents to their first team squad in the likes of Dennis Cirkin and Niall Huggins this summer.
With the duo yet to perform on a longer term basis, years of service was a standout condition in this trio of players we have decided on.
Two of which have performed admirably through adversity on and off the pitch in recent years.
Here, we take a look at three of the biggest bargains Sunderland have found in the transfer market in recent years…
At times he has been a controversial figure at the Stadium of Light and has been earning a pretty penny for third tier standards for much of his time at Sunderland. But having signed a new deal in the summer, to which would have involved a significant pay cut, and having given the years of service he has, Aiden McGeady has been a bright spark of the dark times on Wearside.
Joining in the summer of 2017 from Everton for just over £250,000 and contributing 35 goals and 33 assists in 143 outings has to be classed an excellent business.
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O’Nien signed from Wycombe Wanderers in the summer of 2018 for an undisclosed fee following the club’s relegation to League One. The 26-year-old has played in every position on the pitch apart from in goal and up front since and has contributed 13 goals and 13 assists in 151 appearances. An excellent servant and a player who could thrive for the club in a higher division if they can win promotion this season.
O’Nien’s infectious energy and spot on attitude have carried Sunderland through some very difficult spells in recent years and if anyone deserves to feel the positives of coming out the other side of them, it is the 26-year-old.
Patrick Van Aanholt
A bit of a throwback to the Premier League era. Galatasaray and Netherlands international Patrick Van Aanholt proved an excellent piece of business coming in from Chelsea in July 2014.
Two and a half years and 95 appearances later the Dutcham signed for Crystal Palace for £9.45 million with the Black Cats turning a profit of just under £8 million for the player according to Transfermarkt.
The attacking left back settled in the North East after struggling to break through at Chelsea and played an important in the club avoiding relegation from the top-flight in 2014/15 and 2015/16.