Well, the first inward transfer has been done. Alfred N’Diaye, 22, is now a Sunderland player having joined for, reportedly, just under £4m – the club says “undisclosed fee” so has no grounds for complaint when people speculate – and hopes to play some part in Saturday’s game against West Ham.
That’s a decent goal you see him picking up for the Turkish side, Bursaspor, in the clip. So he’s an attacking midfielder but can also play in defence.
What more do we know? He was born in Paris, played for Nancy in Ligue 1 – not a great recommendation in itself – before moving to Turkey and has represented France at four youth international levels.
He talks in heavily accented, faltering English that still compares well with the speech of some Englishmen I’ve heard. The Sunderland fans are “crazy, fanatical”, the Premier is the world’s best league. The sort of things you’d expect him to say.
And he gets the number four shirt. Guess who else wore that, not the shirt but the number, for Sunderland?
None other than Colin Todd, 173 games for SAFC and later 27 for England and a strong contender for best player to wear our colours since 1960. Martin Harvey and Stan Anderson also wore number four as did Claudio Reyna, Lee Clark and Paul Bracewell. Perhaps it graced the back of other notable Sunderland players, too, as well as a few duds.
It is an encouraging start to Martin O’Neill’s search for new players. Danny Graham would be a good acquisiton from Swansea, too, though that deal still has to be clinched.
For now, bienvenue Alfie, or Monsieur N’Diaye. Have a word or two with Stephane Sessegnon and see if you cannot forge a useful Francophone partnership that will help bring points and goals to the Lads.
See also: my piece on the signing at ESPN: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/945?cc=5739
The first arrival in a transfer window usually gives supporters a lift and most fans of Sunderland will be content with the signing of the French midfielder, Alfred N’Diaye, from the Turkish club Bursaspor.
N’Diaye’s transfer for an undisclosed fee that everyone suspects is just under £4 million was announced in quick succession by both clubs.
Sunderland’s manager Martin O’Neill, who knows he has midfield weaknesses, said he was delighted with the capture and the options it gave him.
Lee Cattermole’s long injury lay-off, and the patchy form of Seb Larsson, Stephane Sessegnon and the wide men, James McClean and Adam Johnson, have diminished the team’s ability to hold a lead or create openings for Steven Fletcher, who generally operates as a lone striker.
Having completed a three-and-a-half year deal, N’Diaye was handed the number four shirt that, possibly unknown to him, has strong echoes in Sunderland’s post-war history.
Colin Todd, regarded by some as Sunderland’s finest player in living memory – despite competition for that honour from others including Charlie Hurley, Brian Clough and Kevin Phillips – wore the same number for most of his 173 games before moving on to Derby County in 1971. He went on to play 27 times for England.
Paris-born, N’Diaye is 22 and played for Ligue 1 club Nancy before moving to Turkey in 2011. He has represented France at various youth levels.
The departure of David Meyler to Hull City made the signing of a midfielder of a combative but also enterprising nature essential. O’Neill could still do with another striker – there are conflicting signals about the prospects of landing Swansea’s Danny Graham – and at least one central defender.
O’Neill told the official club site: “Alfred is a strong, powerful young player and as such can offer us more strength in depth.”
N’Diaye, in hesitant but unexpectedly good English, said he had heard about Sunderland’s “crazy, fanatical fans” and hoped for the chance to play a part in Saturday’s home game against West Ham. He described the Premier League as the best in the world.