New boy Ba seals deal – then helps Sunderland to 13-1 rout

El-Hadji Ba
El-Hadji Ba
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EL-HADJI Ba marked the completion of his Sunderland move by helping the Black Cats to a 13-1 training ground romp at their Italian pre-season base.

Ba’s protracted move to the Stadium of Light was finally confirmed yesterday, with the midfielder penning a three-year deal with the Black Cats.

The 20-year-old revealed last month that he was joining Sunderland after turning down the chance of a new contract at French side Le Havre.

But it has taken time for Sunderland to reach an agreement over compensation with Le Havre after Ba featured 12 times for the Second Division outfit’s first-team last season.

The capture of Ba represents reward for a lengthy pursuit from Sunderland, who have been tracking the France Under-20 international since last year, well before Paolo Di Canio succeeded Martin O’Neill in the Black Cats hot-seat.

Sunderland opted to wait until Ba’s contract at Le Havre expired at the end of last season before making their move and he becomes the eighth player to join the club this summer – following Valentin Roberge, Modibo Diakite, Cabral, David Moberg Karlsson, Vito Mannone, Jozy Altidore and youngster Duncan Watmore.

Ba has been lined up as one for the future, with the youngster not expected to be an immediate challenger for a place in Di Canio’s side.

But he linked up with Sunderland’s squad before the move was announced after travelling with the first-team to their Italian pre-season training camp last weekend.

Sunderland continued their preparations in Italy against a “local select XI” yesterday, with Ba a second-half substitute in the training game.

Stephane Sessegnon led the Sunderland onslaught with five first-half goals, with Moberg Karlsson (2), Altidore, Roberge, Danny Graham, Seb Larsson, Mikael Mandron and Ji Dong-won also finding the net.

There was also the encouraging sight of centre-back Wes Brown playing 45 minutes for Di Canio’s men.

Brown, who has not made a first-team appearance since January 2012, has been in full training since Sunderland returned to pre-season last week.

SUNDERLAND: Mannone (Westwood 46), Gardner, O’Shea (Brown 46), Roberge, Colback, Larsson (Mandron 70), Johnson (Moberg Karlsson 46), Cabral (Vaughan 46), N’Diaye (Ba 46) Sessegnon (Altidore 46), Ji (Graham 46)