Stewart Donald eventually splashed out £3m on bringing Will Grigg to Wearside after the League One outfit baulked at John Marquis’ price-tag.
Sunderland were quoted a staggering £10 million for Doncaster Rovers striker John Marquis, Black Cats owner Stewart Donald revealed during Netflix’s Sunderland Till I Die documentary.
During that fated January transfer window of 2018, Sunderland were desperate for a new centre-forward after losing star man and top scorer Josh Maja. The only problem is, everyone knew it too.
So when the Wearsiders came calling for Marquis, Doncaster obviously felt that they had Sunderland on the back foot right from the off. The former Millwall man might have been a proven lower league goalscorer but a £10 million man he certainly wasn’t.
“Marquis, £10 million. What a joke,” Donald is seen saying as the hours ticked by and the well ran dry. “I’m gonna offer them £1.5 million and say that’s the best that we can do.”
That valuation might have been more than a little far-fetched but, as Donald found out to the cost of his hard-earned personal fortune, no one wants to let their first-choice striker leave on the cheap during that most testing of transfer windows.
Marquis would eventually join Portsmouth a year-and-a-half later for a comparatively miniscule (but still expensive by League One standards) £2 million, according to The News.
Sunderland, however, would go on to splurge an initial £3 million on Will Grigg, making the former Wigan frontman the biggest ever signing in England’s third tier after failing with five previous bids.
Grigg has since scored just five times in 38 League One games in Sunderland colours.