ALFRED N’Diaye will make his Sunderland debut at home to West Ham United today, and he is unlikely to be the last new signing this month as they close in on a deal for Senegal centre-back Kader Mangane.
After what manager Martin O’Neill called “an inordinate amount of time,” the Black Cats yesterday received clearance for 22-year-old midfielder N’Diaye to play at the Stadium of Light today.
Now the focus of their transfer activity turns elsewhere. A six-month loan for Mangane looks close, and they retain an interest in Swansea City’s Danny Graham.
N’Diaye has trained on Wearside since Wednesday, having won O’Neill over after an unimpressive Europa League display in August.
“We have a process here,” said Sunderland’s manager. “There are games now you can pick up within 24 hours of a team playing anywhere in Europe. We’d looked at a couple of things and then suddenly he attracted some attention.
“I went out to see him play for Bursaspor against Twente at the back end of August. He didn’t play fantastically well, but even if he had done, it was all going to be rather late to do anything.
“We’ve kept an eye on it ever since and for the price we paid (around £3.5m), we’re happy.
“If he shows the same determination as I believe he has, I think there’s only one way for him to go and he wants to do it. Naturally, you’d like him to settle in and be brilliant immediately, but he’ll do really well for us.”
The powerful 6ft 2in N’Diaye is of a similar build to Mangane (three inches taller), and O’Neill thinks he will bring something new to the squad. He warned not to expect too much too soon, though.
“He’s athletic, he can cover a lot
of ground and while I think there’s room for improvement in technique, that’s something he wants to do,” he said.
“I feel he can give us that sort of athleticism and vitality around the pitch that sometimes we feel we’re missing.
“I wouldn’t say he’s a goalscorer by any stretch of the imagination. He can improve aspects of his game. Some-times, in his willingness to try to do things, he goes into positions where he won’t be able to receive the ball. But he’ll be a great signing.”
Even with Sunderland’s defensive resources depleted, O’Neill dismissed playing N’Diaye at centre-back. They will make a late decision on John O’Shea after seeing how his hamstring responds to yesterday’s training.
O’Neill confirmed the club are in talks with Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal about taking Mangane on a six-month loan, although he said Middle East claims a deal had been reached were premature.
“He’s a lad who went out to the Middle East from Rennes and we’ve made a number of inquiries about his position,” he confirmed. “In fairness, we’ve inquired about a number of players. At this stage, that’s as far as it’s gone.
“We’ve talked about the possibility of a loan until the end of the season. Beyond that, it would depend on performances and things like that.”
Sunderland’s manager is normally very coy about targets, so to speak to openly about Mangane suggests a degree of optimism. “We want to improve the depth of the squad, but if I can, I think the most important thing over a period of time is to try to improve the quality of the squad as well,” he added. “In time, I think that’s what Alfred will do.
“In terms of the centre-half position, we’re a bit short. Wes Brown has been out for a long time. You wouldn’t say that in the foreseeable future he is going to be back and in contention for us.
“On shorter-term loans, where you think somebody might be able to come and do something for four or five months, it’s less of a gamble. I don’t mind paying a bit over the odds if it’s somebody I think will be here for a good period of time.”