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‘Tricky & can turn a game, but often maddening’ - verdict on Sunderland new boy Kazenga LuaLua

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Kazenga LuaLua arrives at Sunderland with a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove - but is the former Newcastle winger any good?

Kazenga Lua Lua Signs to Sunderland AFC Photo by Sunderland AFC/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland signed winger Kazenga LuaLua last night on a free transfer from Premier League newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion.

Kazenga - the brother of ex-Portsmouth striker Lomana LuaLua - spent the early part of this season out on loan at Ian Holloway’s Queens Park Rangers, and has found himself out of favour at the Amex Stadium due to Chris Hughton recruiting a number of other players in his position that have been instead preferred.

A dynamic, hard-working trickster, LuaLua has many admirers down on the South Coast and leaves the club with their best wishes having first joined up with Brighton back in 2010.

The 27-year-old former Newcastle youth prospect became Chris Coleman’s second signing of the window, and will shortly be followed by Leeds United goalkeeper Andy Lonergan through the doors at the Stadium of Light.

Lualua will bring a little attacking verve to the Black Cats and offer fresh options from the flanks. But is he a signing to get excited about? We collared Alan Wares, co-presenter of The Albion Roar radio show and podcast to get the lowdown:

On Lualua’s style of play:

Kazenga LuaLua - fast, energetic, tricky, maddening, a joy to watch when in full flow. He is best appreciated - a little unfairly perhaps - as an impact player.

He can turn a game when coming on with 25 mins to go - and he has done so several times. Of course, if he comes on with 25 mins to go and you’re 4- up, it’s ‘take the piss’ time. He draws lots of fouls, and often gets players yellow-carded (legitimately) cause they can’t keep up.

On other days, he can hold the play up and stop the flow for the sake of a trick. On balance though, he’s an asset rather than a liability as long as you keep him happy and feed him the ball.

He takes his defensive duties seriously too.

Kazenga Lua Lua Signs to Sunderland AFC Photo by Sunderland AFC/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

On why it hasn’t worked out for him recently & Ian Holloway claimed he felt LuaLua lost his confidence following the death of his dad...

That is entirely possible. And he lost some pace after he broke his ankle about five years ago, though he still has plenty to burn.

As for why he didn’t work out at QPR - probably because their system didn’t suit. As for why he left here - we got better players in. He can be a little bit stroppy - not Sunderland-In-The-Premier-League stroppy, but he’s always happiest out wide taking on grubby full-backs.

Look out for his backflip too when he scores.

On how Albion fans will view him upon his departure...

Many still miss him now - especially when one of our wingers has a poor game, though that’s rare.

In his final days here, the improvement in the rest of the squad seemed to pass him by a bit.

However, he will be loved for his athleticism, his pace, (usually) his willingness, and of course his skill and goals. He hasn’t played for us for a while, so not totally missed, but much appreciated nonetheless.

If you look after him, you’ve got a gem there.

Kazenga Lua Lua Signs to Sunderland AFC Photo by Sunderland AFC/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

The Verdict

LuaLua arrives at Sunderland on a free and has a point to prove. Simon Grayson’s cheap incomings last summer have turned out more miss than hit and there’s always a risk with these types of deals on players whose careers have stalled.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton pretty much confirmed LuaLua wouldn’t get a look-in for the Premier League side but the winger should be able to do a job in the Championship - a league he’s proved himself in over the years.