Sunderland have experienced both the good and the bad from their recent forays into the loan market and it remains a market the club will look to utilise this summer.

Loan players have had a habit of forging quite the relationship with supporters on Wearside in recent history with the likes of Jonny Evans, Danny Welbeck, Fabio Borini and, of course, Manchester United's Amad Diallo last season, to name but a few, all demonstrating the benefit of the loan system for both club and player during their time at the Stadium of Light.

Evans twice joined the club on loan from Old Trafford to help Sunderland to promotion to the Premier League under Roy Keane and then again to retain their status while Welbeck and Borini both left lasting impressions in attack during their respective loan spells in 2010 and 2014. Sunderland are not the first, and won't be the last, club to reap the rewards of a successful loan deal, nor will they be the last to see little benefit from a loan move which fails to work out as planned. 


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Sunderland have been on both ends of the spectrum over the last two years with the unprecedented success of Amad last season a stark contrast to the struggles of Mason Burstow this year. Both players represent the ideal profile of player for Sunderland; a young player on the fringes of breaking into a Premier League squad with a unique value and a potentially high ceiling. Success for the player is to excel for Sunderland in the Championship and, potentially, force their way back into contention upon returning for their parent club in the Premier League while that success translates to Sunderland by pushing them closer towards their goal of being promoted to the Premier League - at least that is the intention. 

Amad is something of an anomaly, however. The Ivorian winger completed a move to Old Trafford in January 2021 in a deal worth an initial £19million from Atalanta with a potential £18m further in add-ons. The then teenager was widely regarded as one of the most exciting prospects in Serie A, despite making only a handful of appearances for La Dea prior to United's interest. The potential, and the ability, was always there with Amad which suggested there was little risk in Sunderland's loan approach. 

We Are Sunderland: Fabio Borini enjoyed a hugely successful loan spell with Sunderland, including his strike in the League Cup final, before returning on a permanent dealFabio Borini enjoyed a hugely successful loan spell with Sunderland, including his strike in the League Cup final, before returning on a permanent deal

Yet prior to his switch to the Stadium of Light, Amad endured a challenging loan with Rangers in the second half of their 2021-22 Scottish Premiership campaign under Giovanni van Bronckhorst after the Dutchman had replaced Steven Gerrard. Amad made just four league starts in what was otherwise considered an unsuccessful loan. In that regard, it could be argued there was an element of risk attached to Sunderland's approach a few months later. 

"I wouldn’t say we got lucky with Amad because he had a loan with Rangers prior to us which went terribly," Sunderland's interim head coach Mike Dodds recently explained.  

"I go back to my point about managers where sometimes you have good managers in the wrong club and sometimes you have good players at the wrong club. Amad and Sunderland fitted, quite clearly, because he’s a wonderful player. But people won’t look at the fact he went to Rangers and hardly played and wasn’t great.

"Even when we recruited him we watched his Rangers clips and were a little reserved, but you then look prior to that and think he’s a really good player."

We Are Sunderland: Amad Diallo had an unsuccessful loan spell with Rangers prior to his move to the Stadium of LightAmad Diallo had an unsuccessful loan spell with Rangers prior to his move to the Stadium of Light (Image: SNS Images)

Amad rewarded Sunderland overlooking his Ibrox loan with 14 goals last season and some memorable moments on their way to the Championship play-offs before the club desperately pursued a return for the winger in the January transfer window following his return from injury.

“We’ve got a really positive relationship with the boy and his people, we’ve got a really positive relationship with Manchester United and I think everyone was really delighted on all sides with what happened last season," sporting director Kristjaan Speakman said at the end of the transfer window. 

“He’s a tier one player. I think we’d be lucky if we got him on loan again because of the level he can play at. I know he enjoyed it, and that’s great. How fantastic that we had a top player came to Sunderland and thoroughly enjoyed his time with supporters, staff and team-mates?

“Do we think he’s a player that could come and improve our team? Yes. Have we inquired about him? Yes. Have we kept in contact? Of course we have. If we hadn’t kept in contact about him, my head might be on a stake.

"Ultimately, it ran its course and he wasn't available. He hasn't turned up anywhere else. We've stayed in that for as long as we possibly could. In hindsight, you could say that was detriment to signing another player earlier on. We felt that was a choice we had to make and we were comfortable with that."




The success of Amad's loan is part of the reason Burstow and Chelsea were keen to strike up a deal with Sunderland last summer. The Chelsea forward enjoyed an impressive season in Premier League 2 last year before playing a part in Mauricio Pochettino's first team squad in their pre-season tour of America where he scored against Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund. The 20-year-old featured in the Premier League during the opening month of the season against West Ham United and Luton Town before a deal was struck with Sunderland, with Speakman having long been an admirer of the young forward. 

Sunderland faced competition from A.C Milan to land Burstow, which is why the success of Amad, and the trust placed in the club by Manchester United, paid dividends, as Chelsea and Burstow opted for a move to the North East of England as opposed to northern Italy. 

We Are Sunderland: Mason Burstow's loan move from Chelsea failed to work outMason Burstow's loan move from Chelsea failed to work out (Image: Ian Horrocks)

Unfortunately, for all parties, Burstow's loan move was unsuccessful, with the striker scoring just one goal in his 20 Championship appearances - having not featured since before the March international break in a goalless draw with Queens Park Rangers. As revealed by We Are Sunderland, the club are under no obligation to turn Burstow's move into a permanent deal this summer, with the striker set to return to Stamford Bridge where Dodds believes the 20-year-old will go on to enjoy a successful career given his potential. 

But the failure of Burstow's loan has not altered Sunderland's mindset when it comes to the loan market should the opportunity to bring in another young player of potential such as Amad or Burstow arise, the caveat being that it will not be to the detriment of bringing through one of their own academy players as seen this season with 16-year-old Chris Rigg.


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"For a club like us who wants to grow and develop and have a sustainable model with assets in the squad, the loan market is always one you’ve got to treat with respect and care," explained Dodds.

"We don’t want to be developing other teams’ players but at the same time, if an Amad type comes along, who you feel is going to help you get to the play-offs for instance, then it’s definitely a market you have to try and exploit.

"But exploiting the loan market won’t be to fill the squad because we’d much rather an academy boy in the squad than someone else’s player or a young player who maybe doesn’t have the credentials right now to propel us to the Premier League but has the potential ceiling to get to the Premier League and that’s where the loan market has to be used to our advantage."