Snapped up for £8.5 million, the Black Cats had acquired a player with a penchant for working hard and exceeding expectations in the face of adversity.
Former Juventus coach Antonio Conte is often said to have never forgiven the club hierarchy for selling Giaccherini, the industrious midfielder a favourite of his.
Yet Giaccherini struggled to adapt in his first Premier League campaign, not giving all to Gus Poyet’s side that observers had anticipated.
In the summer the 29-year-old chose to brush off offers to return to Italy, and returned this season ‘a totally new player’ in the words of Poyet.
That didn’t last long, however. In his first start of the season against West Ham – a match in which Giaccherini did quite well – the diminutive midfielder came off injured.
And he’s been on the treatment table since. That being said, he’s reportedly wanted to replace an injured international team-mate of his at Napoli – Lorenzo Insigne.
Giaccherini’s agent spoke to Radio Kiss Kiss to address the Partenopei rumours, noting there had been no contact but not ruling out a move.
Furio Valcareggi said: “I know their sporting director Bigon and if he wants a player of mine he calls me, which he hasn’t done.
“Giaccherini is well at Sunderland, but the idea of Napoli is flattering and a return to Serie A is intriguing. There are similarities between Emanuele and Insigne.
“With a call from Bigon [could a move happen]? I don’t know, if you want something to happen, you make it happen – there is nothing that can stand in the way of will.”
The ball seems to be in Napoli’s court for any move given Valcareggi’s words, though it’s uncertain how Sunderland would react to an offer for the Italy international.
Giaccherini should return to fitness in the coming weeks, which will give an indication as to where Poyet believes he stands in the squad.
Napoli’s list of targets to stand in for Insigne is quite extensive at the moment and it remains to be seen if Giaccherini is a top option or an alternative.
The Partenopei may pursue hardest whomever they’re able to get on loan in order to assess whether they’d like to make the move permanent even when Insigne returns.
It’s not yet clear whether Giaccherini could be that man, though his agent doesn’t seem to have any objections to bringing the Italian back to Serie A.