Michael Essien has left a lasting impression in the Premier League. The Bison he was called – in full flight, he was as majestic as one, and as unforgiving as any forces of nature would be. Since then, there have been many pretenders to the throne, but not quite anyone near the gumption and authority of the Ghanian stomping through the pastures of the Premier League.
However, a case of deja vu may be not too far away, as Sunderland have today, have broken their transfer record to sign Gabonese International, Didier N’dong (tee-hee, Dong, soz), from Lorient for £13.6million. While the previous record high for another African international, Asamoah Gyan, may have not reaped the long-term rewards that Sunderland had hoped for, with the Ghanian departing for greener pastures of the Gulf; the 22-year-old brings with Touristers packed with potential.
The Sneak Peek
Having represented his country 18 times, Didier N’dong is a regular fixture in the international scene, and Lorient in France’s Ligue 1 (which seems to be an incubator for world-class defensive midfielders for the better part of two decades). Despite being given the tag of a terrier, he’s also considered technically gifted, who adds mobility and uncanny anticipatory skills to read the to sweep away attacking forays in front of the defensive line. But that’s not all – owing to his ability on the ball, he has been tasked as a box-to-box midfielder oftentimes, given the freedom to back himself to bring the ball out of defence, and spring counters – swift and efficient, to rattle and unsettle opponents in equal measure.
Having started his career in nondescript CS Sfaxien of Tunisia – playing a pivotal part in reaching the semi-finals of their 2014 CAF Champions League campaign, was the springboard that propelled him to the attention of Lorient.
His no-mucking-about style and assertiveness, drawn comparisons with Michael Essien – and it’s easy to see why. Packing the momentum of the freight train in his stocky and powerful built, he thunders across the pitch snuffing out chances and setting the tone of midfield passage of play with one thumping tackle of a clever intercept followed by a surging run.
What stands out about N’dong, is his ability to change the run of play, much like the former Chelsea man, his drive and intention on the ball setting the precedent of tempo – accelerating it or decelerating at will, depending on the match situation. A trait that belies his tender years.
Sunderland may have signed a behemoth who is singlehandedly capable of taking the game by the scruff of the neck, once he acquaints himself with the pace of the Premier League – something we believe Didier will relish.