ALFRED N’Diaye believes a more exciting style of play lures French footballers to the Premier League and that its popularity across the Channel might one day help him play for Les Bleus.
French players have arguably had more success than any foreign stars in the Premier League era.
Thierry Henry, Marcel Desailly, Eric Cantona, Nicolas Anelka, David Ginola, Didier Deschamps, Emmanuel Petit, Youri Djorkaeff, Claude Makélélé, Samir Nasri, Robert Pirès and N’Diaye’s boyhood hero Patrick Vieira have all made their mark on this side of the Channel.
It is a market Newcastle United have enthusiastically tapped into this month, taking the number of French players at St James’ Park to 11 so far.
The greater pay on offer is an obvious draw – particularly with French president François Hollande trying to introduce a 75% tax rate for top earners – but most could make similar money in the other top leagues. Parisian N’Diaye, who joined Sunderland from Turkish club Bursaspor this month, feels its style of play gives England an edge.
“A lot of French players come to the Premier League,” noted N’Diaye, who is about to lose compatriot Louis Saha as a club-mate.
“They don’t go to the Bundesliga or Serie A, they come here.
“Lots of French players have had success here and it encourages us. Newcastle almost have a full team of Frenchmen now!
“Everybody likes this league. It’s the best league in the world with the best players.
“You play fast and there are lots of goals.
“You can see games where Arsenal score six and the opposition score three – in France that’s impossible. It’s normally 0-0 or 1-0 or 1-1, not 6-3, 7-3.
“It’s crazy but it’s nice because in the Premier League everyone plays offensively. In France we play for 0-0s.” Still only 22, midfielder N’Diaye was highly regarded as a youngster, representing his country at every age group from under-16 to under-21.
He was part of the French team beaten by England in the semi-finals of the 2009 European Under-19 Championships.
Although he thinks leaving first club Nancy for Turkey in 2011 significantly improved his all-round game, N’Diaye believes his prospects of winning full caps will be much better with Sunderland.
He added: “I’m too old to play for theunder-21s so that’s finished for me now.
“Now I hope I can play for the senior team. Playing in England should make that easier.
“Before I played in Turkey I’d captained the national (under-age) teams, and it was good for me when I was playing in France.
“When I was in Turkey it became more difficult because the coach didn’t see me for long periods and I don’t think he believed Turkish football was so good, but he was wrong – it’s a good league.
“Now it’s better for me because the Premier League is the best league in the world and everybody loves it. Every game in this league is a hard game.
“I think if I play well in this league I can play for the national team.”
Saha (pictured left) was one of the early Frenchman to play in the Premier League, joining Newcastle on loan in 1999.
The former Manchester United striker’s time at Sunderland has not been a success, failing to find the net since joining in August.
The Black Cats have agreed to release him and Saha spent last week in South Africa mulling over a move to Bidvest Wits.
Clubs in Brazil, America and the Middle East have also expressed an interest, with reports in South Africa suggesting Sunderland may continue paying his wages.
His imminent departure has been more than offset by the arrival of N’Diaye on Wearside, and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haïdara, Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran on Tyneside.