Angers SCO earned promotion last season back to the French Ligue 1 for the first time in 21 years, and in a rather unexpected turn of events, sit second in the league table (albeit 15 points behind leaders PSG) after 17 games played. 29-year-old Senegalese midfielder, Cheikh N'Doye has been a catalyst in their eye-catching performances this season.
According to L'Equipe, scouts from as many as eight (8!) Premier League clubs including Manchester City and Chelsea have been sent to watch him in Angers' match against Bordeaux on Sunday. The central midfielder began his professional career in Europe at the age of 23, sweating it out in the lower echelons of French football, with SAS Epinal for three years, followed by another three years in Ligue 2 with Creteil before making his move to the newly-promoted Angers just a few months ago this summer.
With everything going so well but his current deal expiring in 2017, the club are looking to offer N'Doye a contract extension, wary of the rapidly growing interest in the player. Having picked him up as a free agent, the club value him at around 15 million euros. According to WhoScored, he's played on the right side of a 3-man midfield in all, barring one, of his appearances.
N'Doye impresses with the physical aspect of his game and his ability to win duels in the middle of the park, and is evidently a leader of men, having been handed the captain's armband already. Also with an eye for goal, he's Anger's top scorer this season, with five (he scored 32 in his three seasons with Creteil).
This particular report describes the towering Senegalese as a 'real baobab tree' in midfield, reiterating his competence at pressing high, tackling, harassing opposition midfielders and winning aerial duels. It also accredits him to creating spaces by "inspiring fear in his opponents". To be fair to his aforementioned opponents, he's 1.92 meters tall and weighs 90 kilograms. I'd be scared.
Coming from Senegal with his brothers and having worked hard to get where he is today, N'Doye, albeit bursting on to the scene relatively late, says he's only looking forward to working harder and improving.
N'Doye's certainly inspiring rave reviews by virtue of his performances in the French top flight, and if he's ever going to make the move to a more sensible league, now would certainly be the time. Given his background, he could turn out to be a very astute signing and at great value. Or he could turn out to be a waste of squad space and money, like a Steve Sidwell or a Mineiro. We've certainly had our fair share of middling midfielders over the years, no?