SUNDERLAND completed a South American deadline-day double with the capture of Ricardo Alvarez and Sebastian Coates, but the transfer window closed with long-term target Fabio Borini still a Liverpool player.
Argentinian midfielder Alvarez signed a season-long loan from Inter Milan - a potential permanent deal worth around £6.8m is in place for next summer – with defender Coates also arriving on a season-long loan from Liverpool.
Gus Poyet’s summer-long pursuit of Borini came to nothing, even though the Italian’s proposed £10m move to QPR collapsed late yesterday evening when the London club failed to match his wage demands, which are understood to have been around £90,000-a-week.
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Sunderland loaned Valentin Roberge to Reims and cancelled Modibo Diakite’s contract, but the window closed with Coates as the only defensive addition to a squad that has also been bolstered by the arrival of Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt this summer.
Coates’ arrival helps address a weakness at centre-half, although the departure of both Roberge and Diakite means the Black Cats are still arguably light in terms of defensive numbers.
Coates’ season-long loan was complicated by Poyet’s steadfast refusal to give up on Borini, but once it became clear that the Italian would definitely not be returning to the Stadium of Light, either on loan or on a permanent basis, the Black Cats head coach gave the green light to sign his fellow Uruguayan.
The 23-year-old joined Liverpool in the summer of 2011, but only made six Premier League starts for Brendan Rodgers’ side despite arriving at Anfield with a glowing reputation.
Poyet watched him progress from Uruguayan side Nacional to make 15 senior appearances for his national side, and the pair’s shared background was a key factor in Coates’ decision to move to Wearside.
“It’s really good for me (to be working with Poyet),” said the centre-half. “He was a great player and he is improving as a manager really well. He started at Brighton and did really well at that club.
“For me, it’s really important to be here. He (Poyet) spoke to me, and I know what he wants from me. He wants to play really good football, and for me that’s really important. I came from Liverpool, and it’s basically the same style. That will be better for me.”
Having been frustrated by his lack of involvement at Anfield this season, Coates cannot wait to get going on Wearside and is determined to be involved in the home game with Tottenham a week on Saturday.
“It’s a real pleasure for me to be here and I’m really excited about the opportunity to be part of the Sunderland team,” he said. “It’s been great since I arrived here.
“Like every player, I want to play games and, for me, I want to stay fit. After the injuries, I’m fit now, and when Gus wants me to play, I will be ready.”
Alvarez became Sunderland’s second South American addition of the day a couple of hours after Coates’ arrival was confirmed, and is expected to line up on the left-hand flank, although he can also play in a central attacking midfield role.
The 26-year-old was a member of the Argentina squad that made this summer’s World Cup final, and was regarded as one of the brightest midfield prospects in South American football when he broke through at Velez Sarsfield.
However, he lost his way somewhat after moving to Inter Milan in 2011, and leaves the San Siro having made less than 100 appearances for the Serie A side.
“I’m very happy to be here,” said Alvarez. “It’s a great opportunity, a great club and I’m looking forward to playing in England and playing my part for Sunderland.”
Diakite and Roberge both arrived last summer as part of the failed Roberto Di Fanti experiment, and their departure means that of the 14 players that arrived under the Italian director of football, only six remain on Sunderland’s books, with only one – Vito Mannone – regularly in the first team.
The Black Cats agreed to release Diakite from his contract by mutual consent, enabling the defender to join Fiorentina, who he represented on loan last season.
Roberge, who started the opening game of the season at West Brom at right-back, has joined French side Reims on a season-long loan.