N’Diaye: I came here to score

The Northern Echo: VERSATILE MIDFIELDER: Alfred N’Diaye is keen to stress that there is more to his game than tough tackling, and has joined Sunderland to prove he can score goals VERSATILE MIDFIELDER: Alfred N’Diaye is keen to stress that there is more to his game than tough tackling, and has joined Sunderland to prove he can score goals

N’DIAYE issued a warning to Premier League goalkeepers by insisting he has joined Sunderland to hit the net as well as tighten up Martin O’Neill’s team.

When the 22-year-old was persuaded to move to Wearside from Turkish club Bursaspor earlier this month in a £3.8m deal he was dubbed a player more likely to break things up in the middle of the pitch.

But N’Diaye is not happy to be described as a holding midfielder, suggesting he is more than capable of popping up in the penalty area to threaten defences as much as dominating the midfield.

“In one season I scored eight goals (for Bursaspor). In France I didn’t score many because my team was set up differently, so I can do it,” said N’Diaye.

“In Turkey we played good football and I had more opportunities to get forward, so I scored more.

“We played 4-2-3-1 and in my first year I played alongside a holding midfielder who was more defensive than me so I played box-to-box. Sometimes I’d hold, but sometimes I’d be able to get forward.”

With Sunderland’s formation identical to that adopted by Bursaspor, N’Diaye is likely to fit into O’Neill’s way of playing pretty quickly.

Seb Larsson, David Vaughan and Jack Colback have been the three main players playing that role in recent months, but Lee Cattermole is likely to be the long-term partner for N’Diaye in the middle after injury.

“I know Lee’s more defensive than me, but we’ll see,”

said N’Diaye, who impressed on his debut in the win at Wigan nine days ago. “For me it’s not a problem. I don’t mind playing defensively or more offensively.”

Sunderland are hoping N’Diaye and defender Kader Mangane are not the only two new faces in the Sunderland squad by the time the transfer window closes on Thursday.

Swansea striker Danny Graham is top of O’Neill’s wishlist, but Stoke City have emerged as rivals for his signature along with Norwich City. Swansea’s interest in Kenwyne Jones could also strengthen Stoke’s hand.

Sunderland – who have offered £1m less than Norwich’s £5m bid for Graham – are also looking at least one other.

Hamburg defender Paul Scharner has been offered on loan, while Barnsley defender John Stones has been watched a number of times.

But whatever dealings they conclude in the next few days, they will not be making as many new signings as rivals Newcastle United, where five new players have arrived from the French league.

And N’Diaye, who was a French Under-21 international with Senegalese descent, has his own explanation why so many players from France end up in the Premier League.

“They don’t go to the Bundesliga or Serie A, they come here,” said the 22-year-old.

“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 seven 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, to score goals. In France we play for nil-nils.”

N’Diaye represented France at Under-17s level through to the Under-21s, for whom he played seven times. He is hopeful the Premier League stage can help him to claim full international honours.

“Playing in England should make playing for the senior team easier,” said N’Diaye.

“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.

“But when I was in Turkey it became more difficult because the coach didn’t see me for long periods of time and I don’t think he believed Turkish football was so good, but he was wrong – it’s a good league.

“I think 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.”

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