Sunderland have come agonisingly close to sealing some big-name signatures over the years, with a host of world class talent linked with the Stadium of Light.
From England internationals to stars who ended up becoming major global names, a number of players have been touted as potential arrivals in Wearside over recent decades – especially during the club’s Premier League days.
Whether fact or fiction, it’s certainly interesting to think what may have been had the rumours turned out to be true!
So just for fun, we’ve taken a look back over the last few decades and assembled an XI of the best players who almost signed for the Black Cats - and there’s some big names in there!
How many of these players can you remember being linked with Sunderland, and which of them would you liked to have seen arrive on Wearside? Let us know by tweeting us @sunechosafc.
1. GK - Brad Friedel
Back in 1995, Peter Reid made a move to sign the relatively unknown stopper for a fee of £600,000. But work permit problems saw Friedel's move to Sunderland fall through - and he later went on to have a stellar career in England.
Photo: Paul Gilham
2. DEF - Benjamin Mendy
Now of Manchester City, Mendy was weighing-up a move to Sunderland in 2013 and even headed to England for talks. While some reports suggested he had agreed a move to the Stadium of Light, Mendy instead swapped Le Havre for Marseille.
Photo: PAUL ELLIS
3. DEF - Virgil Van Dijk
In the summer of 2015, it looked to be a straight shoot-out between Sunderland and Southampton for Van Dijk's signature. The Celtic defender was hot property but ultimately headed to St Mary's after the Black Cats failed with several bids. Wonder what's happened to him since?
Photo: Jan Kruger
4. DEF - Toby Alderweireld
The Belgian international now plies his trade for Tottenham Hotspur, but came close to joining Sunderland in 2014. Atletico Madrid were willing to allow the centre back to head to Wearside on loan, but Alderweireld turned down the chance as he wished to play European football.
Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS