Sweden international Ola Toivonen has answered former boss Dick Advocaat’s call to arms by signing a season-long loan deal with Sunderland, the club has confirmed. The 29-year-old attacking midfielder, who played under the Dutchman during his time at PSV Eindhoven, has joined the Black Cats from Ligue 1 outfit Rennes.
Advocaat said: “I worked with Ola at PSV, so I know him well. He is a national team player with a lot of experience, an attacking midfielder who can score goals and is good in the air – he will bring something different to the team.”
Toivonen, who has 43 senior caps and nine international goals to his name, could make his debut in Saturday’s Barclays Premier League trip to Aston Villa. His arrival may go some of the way towards placating 67-year-old Advocaat, who has grown increasingly frustrated in recent weeks about the lack of signings after making it clear to owner Ellis Short and sporting director Lee Congerton that up to six “quality” acquisitions were required if the club was to avoid a third successive scrap for top-flight survival.
The Dutchman believes he is suffering because of “crazy” spending on “lower than average” players in the past. However, he accepts Short’s reluctance to throw good money after bad following less than effective investment in recent years on players who are no longer part of the plan.
Advocaat told the Sunderland Echo:
“We had a big past here and I know a little bit about the salary of players – average players, lower than average players, and that’s crazy.
“People who bought those kind of players for those transfer fees and gave them those salaries didn’t care about the club.
“And then I can understand our owner when he thinks, ‘I spent a fortune’ and now where are they playing or not playing? I can totally understand him.
“Supporters have to understand that before you can have a new start, you have to get rid.”
Short issued a robust defense of his stewardship last weekend when he revealed the club have already spent £21.5 million this summer, although they have also raked in £9 million from Connor Wickham’s departure for Crystal Palace.
However, only Jeremain Lens and Yann M’Vila had met Advocaat’s requirements in terms of the standard of new arrival he requires before the Toivonen deal was struck, and although Congerton continues to work tirelessly behind the scenes, time is running short.
Part of the problem is that Sunderland are still paying off installments on players who have either departed or have been deemed surplus to requirements.
Advocaat said: “[The frustration of supporters] has to do with the last three or four years. Take an example in Swansea: they were almost bankrupt, but they had ideas on how to set up a club.
“We have no time to do that because if you see what the other teams are spending compared with us, that is also a concern. But I know a little bit what we’re paying now and what still has to be paid.”
Whatever else happens during the remaining days of the transfer window, Toivonen will be delighted with link up Advocaat and familiar faces Sebastian Larsson and Lens once again.
“I worked with Dick Advocaat for one year at PSV and we came along very well, so I’m excited to work together again.
“I already knew Sebastian from the national team and we’ve played together for five or six years, and I also know Jeremain Lens from our two years together at PSV.”