Sunderland ended last season in fine form, and manager Gus Poyet was rewarded with a host of new signings. Costel Pantilimon, Billy Jones, Santiago Vergini, Sebastian Coates, Patrick van Aanholt, Jack Rodwell, Jordi Gomez, Will Buckley and Ricardo Alvarez all arrived on Wearside, but one of Poyet's top targets slipped the net.
With Sunderland needing new signings in January in a bid to stay in the Premier League, Poyet brought in left back Marcos Alonso on loan from Fiorentina. The Spaniard, who came through the ranks at Real Madrid, already had one spell in England with Bolton Wanderers between 2010 and 2013, but having impressed in his final season with the Trotters, he moved on to Fiorentina.
Yet only nine appearances for the Serie A club in the first half of the season, Alonso headed back to the Premier League with Sunderland, and impressed as a mainstay of Poyet's side until the end of the season. After his loan deal ended, Sunderland made bids to sign him permanently but couldn't convince Fiorentina into a sale - leaving the Spaniard in Florence and Sunderland to sign Patrick van Aanholt from Chelsea.
However, he's had quite the turn of events since leaving the Stadium of Light. Alonso has started to play games under Vincenzo Montella, and despite seeing his permanent move to Sunderland fall through, he admits that he's happy with how things are going.
"I’m excited, because I want to play. Last season I had to leave for Sunderland due to a lack of games, but this season I have started well and enjoyed a good pre-season," said the 23-year-old. "The truth is that Fiorentina’s style of football suits my game. The coach has also told me to focus on my football and play as I know I can, which I have done so far."
In fact, Alonso's good form in Serie A means that some have tipped him for a call-up to Vicente del Bosque's Spain squad, but he says he's focused on playing for Fiorentina.
"A call-up to the Spanish national side? I’m not thinking about that, I’m only focused on my team," Alonso added.