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Didier NDong Q&A With African Football Writer Lotfi Wada

With Sunderland seemingly set to sign Lorient midfielder Didier NDong today before the transfer window closes we thought it would be a good idea to catch up with someone that has watched him play before - Lotfi Wada joins us to talk about the Gabon international.

Sunderland supporters know very little about Didier NDong, but the reported fee is quite large so he'll be coming to us with a certain level of expectancy. Just what are Sunderland getting with the Gabon international midfielder?

With Didier Ndong Sunderland are getting a player with great potential - he's a player who will always give one hundred percent on the pitch, though he is often at risk of picking up yellow and red cards, which is his main problem.

What would you say his greatest characteristics are as a footballer?

Didier has a tremendous work-rate. He isn't scared to bomb forward, and has a pretty nice strike of the ball (he should use it more in my opinion). Added to that for his age - he's only 22 - he has already played in tough environments, playing in the AFCON CAF Champions League, CAF Conf Cup and Ligue 1 which are all famous for their tough physical demands.

N'Dong's disciplinary record is a little sketchy - do you feel that this could be a problem for him in England?

That's personally my main fear, yes.

He has only really played one full season for Lorient - are you surprised that Sunderland are placing such tremendous faith in him, and do you think he will go on to be a success on the biggest stage eventually?

To be honest I was surprised by the price - I value him closer to £14m.

For me he can succeed on the biggest stage on two conditions.

If he plays in his natural position like he did in Lorient - as a ball-winner, and the biggest condition - IF he manages to reduce his disciplinary record, because in terms of natural/technical qualities he's tailor made for English football in my opinion.

Lorient spoke publicly about their disdain for the way that Sunderland conducted business upon signing Lamine Kone in January. Are you surprised that the two clubs are working together again on another transfer?

I'm not surprised personally because when there's such money on the table you can easily sweep away the past. Especially in Lorient's case because they (like many clubs that play in Ligue 1) cannot refuse such a titanic offer for a young player.

Athletic central midfielders have became the new in-thing in the Premier League since witnessing the success story of N'Golo Kante last season, another ball-winner who moved across from France last season. Which player would you say is a good comparison to NDong? I've heard some call him 'the next Michael Essien' - if he's anywhere near as good we'll be happy!

Calling him the next Michael Essien is a bit exaggerated in my opinion, but he shares some common points with him - great workrate and powerful strikes. He's less disciplined than Kanté, as you can see in his card record.

It would be tremendous if he has a third of Essien's success!

NDong has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs since last season ended. Was it always expected in France that he would leave in this transfer window, or has the late nature of this deal come as a surprise?

I think the late nature of the deal and, most important of all, the money offered for such a young player are the factors which have surprised everyone.

Finally - can you summarise your thoughts on the player and the future ahead of him?

Personally I've no doubts on his footballing qualities considering what he showed in Africa and at Lorient. His athleticism makes him tailor made for Premier League football even though I would've loved to see him in Spain to improve his passing game. My biggest fears are, as said previously, that his indiscipline on the field may hamper his progression and that he plays out of his position at times.

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