Sunderland manager Simon Grayson has made it clear that he wants midfielder Didier Ndong to remain at the club amid reported interest from Ligue 1 giants Lyon, via The Chronicle Live.
The 23-year-old only moved to the Stadium of Light last year following a short spell at Lorient, although he was unable to inspire the Black Cats to Premier League safety, with David Moyes’ men finishing bottom of the table and 24 points adrift of safety.
However, Ndong showed glimpses of promise in his 31 league appearances for the club, and three successive starts under new boss Grayson in the Championship this term further underlines his importance to the North East giants.
And that is why reports of Ligue 1 side Lyon eyeing up a move for the Gabon international will likely be of concern to Sunderland supporters, who have seen their side make a fine start to the new season with two wins and two draws in all competitions.
Yet manager Grayson, who replaced Moyes during the close season, has been impressed with Ndong, and is hoping that he’ll remain a Sunderland player for a while yet.
He said: ‘He has unbelievable athleticism and work rate, and good quality on the ball too. That is why he was a £13.6m player. He is still young and adapting to the British way of football.
‘It is never easy when you are in a team that is finding it difficult in the Premier League [last season], but now he looks like he is enjoying himself and is doing what I am asking him to do.
‘Long may that continue.’
These comments are likely to reassure Sunderland supporters, who have seen Ndong contribute to their solid start to the new season with several impressive displays in the heart of their midfield.
The Black Cats host Grayson’s former employers Leeds United on Saturday hoping to preserve their unbeaten run, and at the same time record their first home win of the campaign.
And Ndong’s efforts in the midfield will once again be significant in their quest to do just that.
The Verdict: Midfielder Didier Ndong may not have been able to inspire Sunderland to safety last season, but there were glimpses of promise which he has taken into the early stages of this term.
The 23-year-old has played all 270 minutes of their Championship campaign thus far to highlight his importance to what manager Simon Grayson is trying to build at the Stadium of Light, so reports of Lyon’s interest is unlikely to have been met with delight from Sunderland fans.
Yet Grayson’s recent comments suggest that Ndong is not a player the club are seeking to let go, although Lyon may have the financial resources to lure the midfielder away from the North East should they firm up their interest.
Only time will tell though whether the Gabon international does indeed remain a Sunderland player beyond the August 31 deadline.
Sunderland fans… what do you make of the news? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!