Adnan Januzaj’s arrival on loan from Manchester United last summer was seen as something of a transfer coup at the time.
It wasn’t the first time Sunderland had tried to land the Belgian playmaker.
The previous summer, back when Dick Advocaat was in charge at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland held talks over a potential loan deal but it never materialised.
Januzaj finally arrived on Wearside 12-months later.
But to say the 22-year-old has been a disappointment would be a major understatement. With just one goal to his name in the League Cup and a handful of assists, Januzaj has failed to deliver for Sunderland over the course of 25 appearances.
There is no doubting his technique but he lacks speed and his slight physique makes it easier for opposing defenders to brush him off the ball.
Januzaj isn’t in the team to win 50/50 tackles but some supporters have also questioned his commitment to the cause – something he fiercely disputed when he spoke recently about how much he cares about Sunderland’s plight.
His poor form has seen him benched recently in big games against Leicester City and West Ham United, with Wahbi Khazri finally welcomed in from the cold for the draw with the Hammers.
And that’s the crux of the issue for a lot of supporters. Why have Januzaj and Fabio Borini – who has been equally disappointing even if he did miss more than three months through injury – been given chance after chance by David Moyes, while Khazri was left to kick his heels on the bench.
The Tunisian winger had a point to prove against West Ham and he did so in spectacular fashion.
His goal direct from a corner aside, Khazri was the best player on the pitch showing a real drive, determination and willingness to make things happen for the full game.
He doesn’t always get it right but Sunderland have missed his spark.
Moyes has spoken about the reasons why Khazri hasn’t been involved more. Workrate was never an issue. No, Khazri hadn’t been involved more initially because he returned from pre-season short of match fitness, while the manager also had concerns over his ball retention and lack of end product.
Januzaj hasn’t scored in the Premier League all season. Khazri managed it on his first start in six months.
Point proved. Januzaj would do well to win his place back this season.
Both playmakers will almost certainly leave Wearside this summer, Januzaj after his loan spell ends and Khazri no doubt on to pastures new.
With Sunderland fans left to ponder what could have been had Januzaj matched up to his potential and Khazri been given a chance.
Fresh reports suggest Januzaj will be shown the door by Manchester United this summer, with Jose Mourinho unconvinced by him.
Januzaj is seemingly determined to remain in the Premier League and make a fist of proving his top flight worth.
But potential suitors won’t be queuing at the door given his performances for Sunderland this season.