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Interest in Ndong as Sunderland target moves elsewhere

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Reports from France suggest Didier Ndong could be on the move, and the club miss out on an attacking target at the worst time possible.

Livingston v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

In the wake of a hard-fought draw against Sheffield Wednesday yesterday evening, several pieces of news have emerged with regard to Sunderland’s potential transfer dealings as we edge ever closer to the end of the summer transfer window.

French newspaper L'Équipe suggested yesterday that Lyon are interested in potentially making an offer for energetic midfielder Didier Ndong, who has made an impressive start to the season in the centre of Sunderland’s midfield.

While Cheikh Diop of Celta Vigo remains their number one target, Ndong has been identified as a possible option should Celta Vigo refuse to do business with Les Gones over the combative midfielder.

OL have made a good start to the season winning their opening two fixtures in Ligue 1, but their young starlet Lucas Tousart has been been linked with moves across Europe, and it would seem Lyon are keen to reinforce their side in case a move materializes:

In search of an axial environment, Lyon continues to follow the track that leads to Pape Cheikh Diop (20 years), the Spanish under-19 international of Senegalese origin Celta Vigo (under contract until June 2021).

As pointed out in L'Equipe on Tuesday, however, OL looked at the profile of Grzegorz Krychowiak (27), the Polish international of PSG. But the Rhodanian club was initially considering recruiting a player likely to be an alternative to Lucas Tousart in defensive and not a potential holder, as the status and the cost of the former Rémois would augur. Under contract with Sunderland (D2 English) until June 2021, the former Lorientais Didier Ndong (23 years) was also proposed in Lyon.

- L'Équipe

Granada CF v RC Celta de Vigo - La Liga
A much better midfielder than Ndong.. yep, definitely go for him OL.
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

On the incoming front, Grayson and co. were dealt a cruel blow with the news that Bournemouth winger, Max Gradel, has turned down the opportunity to join the club in favour of a move to France with Toulouse.

Ross McCormack is now alleged to be top of Grayson’s wishlist after Gradel’s family are said to have begged him for a move back to France, according to the Sunderland boss:

We spoke to Max but he eventually decided to go to France. We had agreed something with Bournemouth and he is a good player that I wanted to bring to the club, it showed you where we are with the players we are looking at.

That would have been a big signing for us. But he just felt that his family wanted to go back to France. That was disappointing but it is part and parcel of football.

It’s a real kick in the teeth as the pace and direct nature of Gradel’s play would have been a real asset for Sunderland in what will be a gruelling campaign. Last night’s performance was the club’s third game in seven days, and you could see fatigue hampering a few player’s performances. Fingers crossed that Grayson and Bain have other targets lined up in order to ensure the club can move forward in the right direction.

Hibernian v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly
Maja our for a month.
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

The Gradel deal falling through was even tougher news on the side as Grayson also confirmed yesterday that Josh Maja is to miss the next month of action:

Josh has had an operation on his knee on Tuesday morning. He will probably be out for a month, they just found a bit of a problem with his knee and we had to operate.

A knock sustained at the end of an impressive summer hasn’t healed as well as hoped, and Maja will be frustrated to be missing out on his opportunity to shine. Grayson too will be disappointed in the news considering Sunderland no only have two fit senior strikers available, with Joel Asoro providing cover.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a flurry of Sunderland deals begin to take shape in the coming days after these pieces of bad news coupled with last night’s tired legs. The squad needs depth, and the club need to rectify this situation as soon as possible.