Sunderland were close to signing legendary Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in 2008, but the deal fell through because of a disagreement over £200,000.
13 years ago the Black Cats were a Premier League team having won the Championship a year earlier, and they went on to solidify their status in the top flight for another eight years.
They would spend some of the biggest transfer fees in the club’s history in 2008 and the few years after that, but one that failed to be completed was Chiellini, who of course has gone on to carve out an incredibly successful career.
Chiellini was a Juventus player in 2008 and was only 24 years old when the Black Cats made a move for him, having only played 79 games back then for the Turin side and a bid was accepted in the region of £8 million.
Speaking about the deal that would’ve taken Chiellini to Wearside, former Sunderland chief scout Mick Brown explained that it was a relatively measly figure that meant the deal broke down in the end.
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“A fee was agreed with Juventus – £8million – and Chiellini’s terms had been as well. We were all set to go,” Brown told The Mirror.
“But somewhere in the negotiations in the hierarchy – it was nothing to do with Roy (Keane) or me, Roy wanted Chiellini to come – it fell down over £200,000. Who wanted it or what it was for, I don’t know.
“It was a real shame because I’d put my life on this kid turning out to be a cracker.
“When I saw him, he had a ‘Thou shalt not pass’ attitude. So, you go through the tick boxes. Can he head it? Yes. Can he tackle? Yes. Does he read it well? Yes.
“It was almost a personal religion for him that no one should go past him. Ever. It was almost a personal insult if someone had a shot at the goal.”
Would Chiellini have developed into the world class centre-back he still is today if he actually made the move to the Black Cats? We will never know, but there’s a good chance that it may have been the case.
Back in 2008, Chiellini was only young, had just three seasons of Serie A experience but he was still capped 13 times and played at Euro 2008, so he was a known quantity at this point.
It will still be frustrating for Sunderland fans to read 13 years down the line to see that they could have gotten a player like Chiellini and what may have been – all over the figure of £200,000.