We profile select few who've played for both clubs.
The Irish international defender enjoyed a hugely successful spell at Manchester United after graduating from the club’s Academy. In over a decade in the first team, O’Shea won five Premier League titles, three League Cups, an FA Cup, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Following early loan spells at Royal Antwerp in Belgium and Bournemouth, O’Shea established himself as a firm fixture in the United first team, making almost 400 appearances in all competitions over his time at Old Trafford.
He moved to Sunderland in the summer of 2011, with former Manchester United defender Steve Bruce bringing O’Shea to the Stadium of Light.
The defender has accrued more than 80 international caps in over a decade of playing for Ireland.
Brown enjoyed great success at Old Trafford, comparable to current teammate John O’Shea. He picked up eight Premier League titles, two FA Cups, three League Cups and two Champions League titles.
He graduated from the Manchester United academy, having signed for United at the age of 13. Sir Alex Ferguson called Brown “without question, the best natural defender [Manchester United] has had for years”.
Brown moved to the Stadium of Light in summer 2011 and went on to make 20 league appearances in his opening campaign before an injury curtailed his season. He scored his only league goal for the Black Cats so far in the last minute of a match against QPR in December 2011, securing a 3-2 win.
He was in the England squad for the 2002 World Cup and has represented his country on 23 occasions, scoring once against the Czech Republic.
Cultured defender Evans was still in the early days of his career when he joined Roy Keane’s Sunderland on loan in January 2007.
Evans had already had a spell out on loan alongside Fraizer Campbell at Royal Antwerp but really took his game to the next level in the red and white stripes.
He immediately impressed on Wearside, playing a key role as the Black Cats won promotion back to the top flight with a superb run over the second half of the campaign.
Evans won the club’s Young Player of the Year award before returning to Old Trafford to fight for a first-team place.
However, he once again made the move north in January 2008 for a second stint and successfully helped the Black Cats retain their Premier League status.
He subsequently headed back to Old Trafford and has developed into a regular contributor who is closing in on 150 senior appearances for the club.
Evans has already collected two top-flight winners’ medals as a United player as well as capturing the League Cup twice.
A loan spell with Sunderland during the 2010-11 season helped smooth Danny Welbeck’s path from promising youngster to England star.
The athletic striker joined the Black Cats in August 2010 and was a key figure in the side which eventually finished 10th in the top flight.
He had some memorable moments at the Stadium of Light and established himself as an excellent top-flight performer, bagging six goals in 29 games.
Like Evans, Welbeck has featured regularly since returning to Old Trafford, playing in 20 games this season alone.
The frontman has also blossomed on the international front, becoming a mainstay for England after making his debut while still a Sunderland player.