Sebastian Coates admits it was an “easy” decision to leave Liverpool this summer and rejoin Sunderland on a permanent basis.
Coates became the first signing of the Dick Advocaat era when he penned a four-year deal at the Stadium of Light earlier this month after Liverpool sanctioned a £5million loss on the centre-half by allowing him to join Sunderland for just £2m.
I knew it was a great opportunity to come to Sunderland and play regularly in the Premier LeagueSebastian Coates
The Uruguayan proved to be a revelation during the final six games of last season under Advocaat after previously being confined to the fringes during an injury-hit season-long loan with the Black Cats.
And with Sunderland offering Coates the chance to play regular Premier League football for the first time - four years after moving to English football - the 24-year-old jumped at the chance to return to Wearside.
Coates told the Echo: “Yes, it was an easy decision to come back because I know the manager, my team-mates, the club and the supporters.
“It was really easy.
“The last month of the season changed everything, but that’s football.
“It was a great month for me and of course that was the best bit of the season for me.
“It wasn’t certain that I’d leave Liverpool this summer, but I always thought I’d have to speak with the club and see what the situation was.
“But I knew it was a great opportunity to come to Sunderland and play regularly in the Premier League. That’s why I’m here.
“When I first came here last year, I just did it to play games and recover from my injuries.
“I didn’t think about making it permanent.
“For me, it was a tough season, but playing in the last six games was great.”
Coates is likely to begin the season as one of Advocaat’s first-choice central halves, but he will not be an automatic pick.
The capture of fellow central defender Younes Kaboul has given Sunderland some strength in depth at the heart of their back four, with Coates the junior member of an experienced quartet concluded by veterans John O’Shea and Wes Brown.
“It’s great to have Kaboul, O’Shea and Wes,” he said.
“You want good players training with you every day and I’m learning all the time as the young one of the four.
“Hopefully I can play more than last season, but I’ll have to wait and see what the manager does.
“You have to take those chances and I hope I have the opportunity to play regularly.”
Coates has had to play catch-up during pre-season after playing given extra time off during the summer, due to his involvement in the Copa America.
He only made his first friendly appearance in Wednesday night’s defeat at Doncaster, with tomorrow’s trip to Bundesliga outfit Hannover 96 offering a final chance of game-time before the Premier League gets underway.
“When I came, I had one week to adapt to the others, but that’s part of the pre-season,” he added.
“It’s difficult because I didn’t stop at the end of the season and then the lads were training for three weeks without me.
“Apart from the result the other night, it was good to play and get to know my new team-mates.
“It’s only a pre-season game, so the focus is on getting your shape for the start of the Premier League.”