Pierre Ekwah’s response Sunderland fans will love amid Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace transfer links

Pierre Ekwah discusses his first year at Sunderland after leaving West Ham and conversations with head coach Michael Beale.
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Pierre Ekwah says Sunderland is the perfect place for his development and that he’s really enjoying life on Wearside amid reported interest from elsewhere.

The 22-year-old midfielder only joined the Black Cats just over a year ago from West Ham, where he played for the under-21s team, but has become a first-team regular at the Stadium of Light.

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Sunderland fended off interest in Ekwah last summer, following his impressive end to the previous season, while Premier League clubs including Nottingham and Crystal Palace have been credited with interest in him.

Yet Ekwah remains grateful for the opportunities he’s received on Wearside. When asked if he still believes it’s the best place for his development, he told the Echo: “Oh yeah, 100 per cent. Like I said the last time we spoke, I’m definitely happy here. For my development as a person and as a footballer it’s the perfect place. I’m really enjoying myself and you can see it out there that a lot of people are enjoying themselves, that’s for sure.”

Ekwah has moved back into a more advanced midfield position under Michael Beale, who was appointed at the end of December. The Frenchman says he’s enjoyed chatting with Beale about tactical information and previous experiences after an eventful 12 months in the North East.

“We were talking about my past and all this, about where I've been and things like that,” replied Ekwah when asked about his conversations with Beale. “When the new gaffer came in he introduced himself and at the same time we introduced ourselves to him. Knowing the background of everyone I think is great and he's done a great gesture and I appreciate that.”

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Asked what he’s learnt over the past year, Ekwah, with a beaming smile on his face, said: “A lot. I came from West Ham playing under-21s first of all. Can you do it in front of 40,000? Just little things like that. If I’m sitting here telling you what I’ve learnt it would maybe take like an hour or two, but I’ve definitely learnt a lot.

“I think you can see in my game, each game I’m trying to develop something else. When you have different coaches for your development you learn something new. I think Michael Beale the gaffer right now is teaching me something new for sure.”

He added: “I went from 21s to the Championship and went to the play-offs in like not even a year's time. Obviously now I’m playing week in, week out and you just have to stay ready at any time because it’s a long season, it’s challenging. There are a lot of games.

“When you are chasing you can’t really get complacent because you need to be at it every time, like we’ve seen. If you are not at it, the other teams will be and will run you down. You just have to be at it all the time. It is obviously a pleasure to play for this club and play week in, week out because that’s obviously what I wanted.”