Emanuele Giaccherini's fruitless spell at Sunderland finally came to an end yesterday, the Italian winger being shipped off to Napoli for a reported £2m. Was this the wisest decision we could have made?
Amidst the flurry of rumours and speculation regarding Sam Allardyce and the England job, Giaccherini's exit could well have flown under the radar. However, the transfer deal could tell us a lot about what's going on in the backroom.
Sunderland fans are right to ask questions about the deal. Some fans have suggested that, following improved performances for Italy at Euro 2016, the winger could be in line for a regular first-team place next season. But the truth is, he was never going to make it in England. He didn't show any sign of promise on Wearside, and was consigned to a lengthy spell on the sidelines shortly after arrival. He looked lethargic, almost homesick, for the duration, and it took a loan spell at Bologna to win back his place in the Italy team. Even if he'd stayed, it would have been a struggle to acclimatize him to an environment that he'd already given up on.
So no, he was never really going to feature for us next season. More interestingly, who signed off on the transfer? And why did we accept such a low sum? Having bought the player for a rumoured £6.5 million from Juventus, and on the back of a prolific Euros campaign, he would surely have been a fantastic acquisition for any team in Serie A. Even if he didn't prove himself in England, could it seriously be true that we couldn't hold out for any more than £2 million from an Italian side? Unknown English youngsters get traded around for several times that price. The sanctioning of this sale represents a major failure in transfer policy by someone at the club.
But who? Was it Sam Allardyce who signed off on the transfer? You would imagine so, considering he is the club's manager at the time of writing. You would also imagine that, if Allardyce is waiting for that call from the FA sometime this week, he has no business making decisions regarding who will or won't be at the club after he's left. And yet, if someone else made the call, wouldn't that represent a clear undermining of the authority of the incumbent manager at the club? It could be that Allardyce authorized a member of his backroom staff to take charge of negotiations, but it seems absurd that a man with as accomplished a football brain as Big Sam would approve of this deal.
Meanwhile, a man who was vilified in the media for years as a one-trick pony, a long-ball merchant, is suddenly being hailed as the saviour of English football. The English gutter press have been running a smear campaign against Allardyce since his Bolton days, and he would have every right to tell a hostile establishment where to stick their job. We can only hope that he has his mind focused on his task at Sunderland as we prepare for our opening pre-season friendly. It promises to be an interesting week at the Stadium of Light whatever happens.