Didier Ibrahim NDong.
Date & Place Of Birth
Didier was born on the 17th of June 1994 in Lambaréné, Gabon.
NDong's short career has seen him play his football on two separate continents, starting out first as an eighteen year old playing for Tunisian side Club Sportif Sfaxien. He was used sparingly, never making more than eighteen appearances in a season, before French club Lorient took him to Ligue 1 in January of 2015.
Between the winter and the end of the season NDong wasn't particularly thrust into the first team picture at Lorient but, last summer, he was earmarked by manager Sylvain Ripoll as one of his most important players and Didier was an ever present in the Lorient side that disappointingly finished 15th last season in Ligue 1.
NDong is a full Gabon international and has appeared eighteen times for his country.
Physically, What Is He Like?
Didier isn't the biggest, standing at 5 ft 11 ins, but he is powerful and quick and is commended in France for the amount of ground that he covers. Sunderland need more athletes in their side and NDong certainly fills that quota.
What Has Been Said?
Well, French newspaper L'Equipe credited Sunderland with interest in NDong all the way back at the start of June but since then very little has been said. With the breakdown of the Vicente Iborra transfer occurring yesterday it would seem that David Moyes has went back to the scouting blueprint left for him by Sam Allardyce and, barring any major hiccups, it's expected that NDong will be a Sunderland player by close of play tonight.
Sky Sports have said that Martin Bain and club officials flew to France last night to meet the player, and that an agreement was reached verbally on the deal. They also claim that his medical was completed in France over night and the player is now headed to England to complete the transfer, which is believed to be for a fee of around €20m - this would make him Sunderland's record transfer.
How Did He Fare Last Season?
NDong was an ever present for Lorient last season and, despite his age, tremendous faith was placed in him to carry the team and do all of the dirty work in midfield. He scored just once, in September last year against Monaco.
Where Would He Fit Into David Moyes' Squad?
An article from May by FrenchFootballWeekly on the player perhaps best summarises what NDong can offer to Sunderland.
I've extracted a quote regarding his playing style. You can read the full piece here.
NDong has shown potential both in France and Tunisia that if required, he is more than able to become more of a goalscoring threat. With the ball at his feet and his off-the-ball vision, he can be a menace to opposition defences. His ball retention skills are excellent and he can very quickly turn defence into attack with his pace, power and dribbling ability. It’s that tenacity and determination in midfield that stand as Ndong’s leading attributes. As his coach Ripoll has said "he is a complete player who can play offensively or defensively in midfield. He can provide a cutting edge and has a great character and personality".
As the chase for Vicente Iborra showed, Moyes feels his midfield lacks power and dependability and NDong would certainly add that.
NDong has been injured just once in his career, fracturing his leg when playing in Tunisia in 2014.
Here's your customary compilation video with crap music - enjoy.
As I've said before, Sunderland just cannot rely on Jan Kirchhoff and Lee Cattermole to stay fit, and it has shown in the type of player that David Moyes has been targeting in midfield that he feels it is necessary that we sign a player who has shown he can play ninety minutes week in, week out.
Lets be honest, this transfer represents a massive risk for the club and it seems a little left-field, but this is obviously a player that has been very well scouted and has tremendous potential. Sunderland need NDong to hit the ground running and slot straight into our side, and the hope is that our growing contingent of African players can ensure that he settles straight in and proves just why he comes so highly rated.
Athletic ball winners are the new in-thing in the Premier League and it's a role which N'Golo Kante almost perfected for Leicester last season having moved across from France last summer. If NDong is anywhere near as good as Kante, we'd be signing a very good footballer.
I'm excited, purely because he doesn't seem like the type of player that we would usually sign.