FRANCE Under 21 midfielder Alfred N’Diaye is poised to become Sunderland’s first signing of the January transfer window.
But the transfer of the 6ft 2in defensive midfielder from Turkish side Bursaspor is not as imminent as has been suggested and the Black Cats will not be unveiling him today.
N’Diaye is set for talks after a fee was agreed between the two clubs.
An initial bid of £2million for the muscular midfielder, who can also play in central defence, was originally rebuffed by Bursaspor.
But an improved bid, believed to be in the region of £3million, has opened the door for the move.
N’Diaye will fly to the North East for talks leading to a potential medical but the club is keen to point out that that does not mean a signing is all but wrapped up.
Their cautious approach is understandable with much that can still go wrong in transfer negotiations.
But Sunderland are hopeful that he could become the first signing of the transfer window.
If the deal is wrapped up quickly, he could potentially be available for the game against West Ham United this weekend but the likelihood is that it would not be done in time for the weekend.
A new signing before the visit of the Hammers would certainly give Sunderland a boost not just in terms of a fresh face but in much-needed reinforcements.
For example, Martin O’Neill currently has only two fit central defenders available and they are his fourth and fifth choice players – Matt Kilgallon and Titus Bramble.
And while N’Diaye’s is primarily a defensive midfielder, he can also play in central defence when required.
Long-term though N’Diaye would add height and power to a Sunderland side which is currently lacking in it. He would also add extra physicality and presence in a midfield which, again, is challenged by so many Premier League clubs with physically imposing central midfielders.
His signing would certainly lift fans who have seen the club’s depleted squad running on empty at times over the course of five games in 15 days which ended on Saturday with the 2-2 draw against Bolton.
But Martin O’Neill is determined to bring in a number of players in the window to ensure that Sunderland have a genuinely competitive squad for the remainder of the campaign.
And if N’Diaye’s transfer, as expected, is confirmed soon, he is likely to be only the first of a string of signings Sunderland will make this month.
Talks are still ongoing about the proposed short-term loan of Tim Cahill from New York Red Bulls.
But the club has made no approach so far for Hungarian international Roland Juhasz, despite the Anderlecht centre-half expressing an interest in joining Sunderland.