Last week’s article focused on some of the best players that have made a short term move to the Stadium of Light. Whilst that article might have evoked some pleasant memories, this article will definitely not. Over the years there have been some shocking loan signings made by the club, at times the only good thing about a player was the fact he wasn’t signed permanently. Whilst there are some pretty forgettable names on this list, I can confirm they have all definitely played for Sunderland. I do apologise if this article causes sleepless nights but here is the worst loan signings Sunderland have made:
ANTHONY LE TALLEC 2005/06
When we returned to the Premier League in 2005, Mick McCarthy signed Le Tallec from Liverpool on a season-long loan. The Frenchman came to Wearside as a youngster with bags of potential after having a fantastic youth career. Le Tallec was labelled as “the next Zidane” by some French media outlets and coaches. Not surprisingly this led to excitement amongst Sunderland fans, however that faded away when Le Tallec began kicking a ball. In a disappointing season, where we finished bottom with 15 points, Le Tallec did not live up to the hype. As the season went on he looked increasingly uninterested, however he did finish as the team’s top scorer with six goals in all competitions. He returned to Liverpool as we returned to the Championship.
After a few technical problems (a broken fax machine) Benjani signed on loan from Man City in February 2010. The Premier League had to confirm the transfer and looking back I wish they hadn’t. Benjani had established himself as a top-flight goal scorer with Portsmouth, his goals on the South Coast earned him a move to Man City in 2008. However he struggled to find form at City and without a goal in over a year, he joined Sunderland on loan. Therefore it was no surprise that in the eight games he played for the lads he scored zero goals and was extremely poor. He rarely touched the ball and when he did it would often end up going back to the opposition. I have an extremely vague memory of him scoring a goal on a cold Tuesday night game, only for it to be ruled offside. No one was shocked when manager Steve Bruce announced he would not be offered a permanent deal.
KADER MANGANE 2012/13
If you read his name and it brought zero memories to your head then I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t blame you if his name is out of your head by the time you’ve finished reading this article. Mangane joined Sunderland from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal in January 2013. Before Sunderland the Senegalese centre back was most famous for picking up a six month ban after a horrific tackle on Valenciennes midfielder Jonathan Lacourt in 2009. Martin O’Neill brought him to the club but never played him, it seemed bizarre that we signed him in the first place considering we already had a number of fully fit centre backs. Paolo Di Canio eventually gave him his debut after Mangane had been at the club for three months. He came on in the 72nd minute in the 3-0 Tyne-Wear derby victory in April 2013 and didn’t do anything of note. Only making one more appearance after that the signing of Mangane remains one of the most pointless in Sunderland’s history.
OLA TOIVONEN 2015/16
Toivonen signed from Rennes in August 2015 and re-united with his former PSV manager Dick Advocaat. The attacking midfielder/striker made his debut against Aston Villa a day after signing and assisted Jeremain Lens’s equaliser. Toivonen scored his only goal for Safc in a 4-1 home defeat to Man City in the League Cup. Making 14 appearances Toivonen looked massively out of his depth and nowhere near the pace of the Premier League. For an attacker his shooting left a lot to be desired, during a home game Toivonen managed to have a shot that went out for a throw in. Not surprisingly we didn’t sign the big Swede on a permanent deal.
DAME N’DOYE 2015/16
The former Hull striker was signed on loan from Trabzonspor in January 2016 in the hope his goals could lead us to safety. He had scored five goals in 15 games for Hull in 2015 so had proven Premier League pedigree. However in typical Sunderland striker fashion N’Doye was a massive flop, he only managed to score once and even that goal was extremely dubious. N’Doye saw his shot take a massive deflection and wrong foot Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey in a game that eventually finished 2-2. N’Doye didn’t score again for Sunderland and did not contribute to our escape from relegation. He returned to Turkey after his loan finished. Like most strikers who fail to deliver for Sunderland N’Doye has been successful elsewhere. In 2018 he became Copenhagen’s all-time record goal scorer, after two spells at the club.
JASON DENAYER 2016/17
Denayer joined Sunderland on a season-long loan from Manchester City in August 2016. The Belgian came to the Stadium of Light with a wealth of experience having had previous loan spells at Galatasaray and Celtic. He had won the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year in 2015 so his quality wasn’t lacking, that was until he came to Sunderland. David Moyes brought him to the club and in another one of his masterstrokes in the 2016/17 season decided to play him in midfield rather than defence. Denayer made 27 appearances but failed to perform consistently and look out of his depth, which is understandable considering he was not playing in his natural position. We were relegated at the end of an extremely poor season and Denayer retuned to City. In 2018 he left Manchester City and joined French side Lyon, a kick in the teeth is that he is now one of Europe’s top centre halves. He was part of the Lyon side that beat Manchester City 3-1 in the Champions League Quarter Final last season before losing to eventual winners Bayern Munich in the Semi’s.
BRENDAN GALLOWAY 2017/18
Galloway was signed from Everton in the summer of 2017 following our relegation to the Championship. Galloway had Premier League experience, having made 14 starts in the 2015/16 Premier League season. He had also spent time on loan at West Brom, as well as playing at just about every level for England up until the U21s. All of this experience suggested Galloway could be a key figure in our attempt to return to the Prem. However Galloway was a huge disappointment. He started the opening game of the season against Derby and was at fault for the oppositions goal. After a series of mistakes in the seasons opening games he lost his place to Bryan Oviedo, who had returned from injury. Galloway only made seven appearances during the 2017/18 season and didn’t feature in a first team game after December 2017. His loan spell was that much of a failure manager Chris Coleman admitted that in the January transfer window the club had tried to prompt Everton into loaning him to another club. After returning to Everton, Galloway went onto sign for Luton.
JAKE CLARKE-SALTER 2017/18
Sunderland signed Clarke-Salter on loan in January 2018 for the remainder of the season. The defender came to the North East as the England under-21 captain so there was some anticipation that he could steady our defence and guide us to safety, how wrong we were. Clarke-Salter made his debut a week later in a 4-0 defeat to Cardiff and as the score line suggests, it was clear his defensive abilities were lacking. He was then sent off in a 3-3 draw against Middlesbrough for a tackle on Adama Traoré. In his first game back from suspension he was sent off again for a second yellow card against Preston. Clarke-Salter’s time on Wearside was a largely forgettable one, in total he only made 11 appearances for the club. He returned to Chelsea and has since had loan spells at Vitesse and Birmingham.
LEE CAMP 2017/18
Last and certainly least, Lee Camp. The worst loan signing our history? You’ll have to look hard to find a Sunderland fan who will argue against that. The poppadum wristed goalkeeper signed on loan from Cardiff on Deadline Day in January to fix our goalkeeping crisis. The only thing Camp did in the 12 games he played for Sunderland was to add to that crisis. Camp lacked the basic skills of being able to save a shot and being mobile. If you dragged a fan out the South Stand at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon and put him in goal I’d have had more confidence in our chances of victory. Camp’s case wasn’t helped by that awful pony tail and the thought of it still keeps me up at night. It’s not surprise he did not sign permanently. Camp went onto play for Birmingham and is currently without a club and his application to join ALS’ 5 a side team has been rejected.
Let’s hope that the next player we sign on loan doesn’t end up on this list.