Crystal Palace centre-half Mamadou Sakho has told the Guardian that former Sunderland midfielder Yann M'Vila played a part in his signing for the Eagles in January.
Sakho has been an inspirational presence at the heart of the Eagles defence since signing on loan in January.
The Frenchman fell out favour at Liverpool but has been absolutely crucial to their revival under Sam Allardyce.
Sakho made his debut following Sunderland's 4-0 win over the Eagles in February. The Black Cats moved level on points with Allardyce's side that day but the gap is now a remarkable 14.
Sakho was searching for a fresh start in January and revealed M'Vila had an influential word.
He told the Guardian: "I’d only heard good things about the manager, and his being here helped make my decision easier,
"I spoke with [the Rubin Kazan midfielder] Yann M’Vila, who had worked with him at Sunderland last season, and he spoke so highly of the coach. He knows what he is doing, a top manager."
M'Vila was a key player for the Black Cats under Allardyce this year, and looked set to make his switch permanent in the summer.
However, Sunderland decided against paying a significant fee to Rubin Kazan in August and the midfielder then backed out of a pre-contract agreement to join in January.