Sunderland's incredible end to last season saw them beat Chelsea and Manchester United as well as pick up a point against Manchester City as Gus Poyet miraculously led them to safety after the ill-fated Paolo Di Canio era predictably ended in disaster at the Stadium of Light.
This summer, the Black Cats hierarchy backed Poyet in the transfer market with the arrivals of Costel Pantilimon, Billy Jones, Santiago Vergini, Sebastian Coates, Patrick van Aanholt, Jack Rodwell, Jordi Gomez, Will Buckley and Ricardo Alvarez in a real influx of continental talent.
The signing of Alvarez is particularly exciting for the Sunderland faithful. The former Velez Sarsfield playmaker has joined from Inter Milan on loan for the season after featuring for Argentina at this summer's World Cup, and the 26-year-old is renowned for being a gifted No. 10 with an outstanding left foot.
However, Alvarez arrived when Sunderland couldn't tie up a deal for Liverpool forward Fabio Borini, and manager Poyet has had to reiterate to fans that Alvarez is not a direct replacement for Borini.
"People will think Ricky is a substitute for him but he’s not," said Poyet. "Ricky is a player who is exciting on the ball and who will create things on his own but he is not a proper scorer. We can’t say he is replacing Borini. He may well play in a position where Fabio played last year but I don’t know if he will play on the left all the time."
Alvarez can play anywhere behind the striker, and it's worth noting that Inter fans and staff rated Alvarez more highly than Philippe Coutinho - who has dazzled in the Premier League since signing for Liverpool in January 2013. With excellent dribbling, technique and an eye for goal, Alvarez may not be a like-for-like replacement for Borini, but he could well go on to have an even bigger impact than the Italian on Wearside.