Julio Arca signed for Sunderland in 2000 from Argentinos Juniors. The winger came complete with pace and a whole lot of skill which was successfully put into practice for the Black Cats. In Division 1, the Wearside crowd were wowed by the wizardry of Alan ‘Magic’ Johnson, but the Premier League was a different ball game. This is probably the reason why Peter Reid cast his scouting net to the exotic lands of South America in search of a cheap bargain.
Julio turned out to be more than just a bargain. Reid had unearthed a gem with lightening pace who soon became a fan favourite, notching up 157 appearances for Sunderland despite picking up numerous injuries on the way.
4. Nicolas Medina
Peter Reid then tried his luck again a year later, plucking Nicolas Medina from the same side he’d found Arca. Paying £3.7million for the the Argentine, Reid famously declared Medina to be the ‘complete midfield player.’
To be fair, there was plenty of competition for central midfield roles at the time of Medina’s arrival. Stefan Schwarz, Don Hutchison and Gavin McCann were all in fine form for Sunderland as the team continued to compete in the top half of the Premiership. Supporters were even warned that it would take time for the youngster to break into the squad.
Teams sheets were announced, and fans became suspicious. Why on earth wasn’t a £3.5million signing making it onto the bench? He was getting plenty of reserve team action, that’s for sure.
The Argentine told a national newspaper that he wanted to buy a house in Newcastle rather than Sunderland. Speculation arose that this could have prompted a feud between the midfielder with the temperamental Peter Reid, pushing Medina further into the exile of the reserves.
Alas, Peter Reid was eventually sacked as Sunderland manager in 2002, in which time Medina had managed to get zero first team appearances for his club. Confusing everyone apart from chairman Bob Murray, Howard Wilkinson was handed the job of pushing the Black Cats back up the league.
This affected Medina’s career on Wearside very little. Wilkinson was questioned for Reid’s unwillingness to play the midfielder. His response:
“The evidence suggests that Nicolas hasn’t got it because the previous manager didn’t pick him.”
Great observation Wilko, to believe you wouldn’t last a season!
As for Nicolas, the club decided to part ways with the player who went on to grab an appearance for his national team at the 2004 Olympics as part of the side that went on to win gold. That’s one more appearance than he made in the Premier League. Medina went back to South America playing for various clubs before signing for Chilean side O’Higgins last year.
Keep a look out for the rest of Sunderland’s Worst Signings or alternatively follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Jrodgers74
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