SUNDERLAND were a whisker away from signing Will Buckley in the January transfer window, Gus Poyet has revealed.
Buckley penned a three-year deal at the Stadium of Light this week to be reunited with ex-Brighton boss Poyet.
But the 24-year-old was almost a Sunderland player seven months ago after the Black Cats are understood to have agreed both a fee with Brighton and personal terms with the former Rochdale man.
The Seagulls opted against rubber-stamping Buckley’s departure at the last moment, but Poyet is pleased to have finally brought the wideman to the Stadium of Light; believing he will add a different weapon to Sunderland’s attacking arsenal.
Poyet told the Echo: “We were very close in January. I thought it was done.
“Bucker was a player who was one of my first signings at Brighton, in the Championship.
“We knew he was very quick and direct. He slowly started learning when and how, and really got better and scored key goals.
“He became a crucial part of our game because we used him in a particular way. He understood what we needed from him and he was very comfortable.
“When you’ve got options of quick players, you need to know what you’re going to get from him.
“We didn’t have anyone threatening in behind or taking the team 40 yards up the pitch because of their pace.
“We know Bucker very well, which helps.
“He knows how he’s going to train.
“I think in the beginning, he’ll have to be used in a certain way; a real impact player.
“And then, it depends on him.”
Poyet says Buckley could be deployed either on the left or right flank, and will offer a goal threat too after netting 19 times in 96 Championship appearances for Brighton.
“Most of the time with me at Brighton, he was playing on the right,” added the Sunderland boss.
“But that goal against Newcastle (the FA Cup fourth round) when we beat them 1-0, he was on the left.
“He will get goals. I’ve no doubt about that. I’m not saying he will get you 10, but he’ll get as close as possible.
“We know what he is bringing to the group; how he is going to perform.
“The whole package is very good.”
Meanwhile, Brighton boss Sami Hyypia yesterday hit out at Buckley’s attitude during the Seagulls’ pre-season.
“I have an idea that when somebody doesn’t want to play for you or be there for you then it’s better to move on, said Hyypia.
“Before I came I heard about players here and Will Buckley was one of the best rated players here.
“I don’t know what was wrong with him all pre-season but he didn’t really show why everybody was raving.
“I don’t know if he knew that something was going to happen but I don’t think I’m the only one who saw he wasn’t the same.”