New Sunderland signing Ba faces challenge for first-team shirt

El-Hadji Ba

El-Hadji Ba

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LE Havre midfielder El-Hadji Ba is set to become Sunderland’s fourth Bosman signing of the summer – but will face a fight to get into the first team.

The French Under-20 international confirmed through French newspaper L’Equipe that he has agreed a three-year contract with the Black Cats.

And although there has been no official confirmation from either Sunderland or Le Havre, Ba is expected to be on Wearside next season.

The 20-year-old is a central midfielder, similar in style to his countryman Alfred N’Diaye, who arrived at the Stadium of Light in the January transfer window, and is a highly-rated prospect in his home country.

He faces a challenge at Sunderland and may well start off in Kevin Ball’s Under-21 development squad.

Ba played his football for French Ligue 2 side Le Havre last season, making only 12 appearances and scoring one goal.

Although his contract is up at Le Havre and he can leave on a Bosman free transfer, compensation will be due to the French club – somewhere in the region of £250,000 – because of Ba’s youth.

Ba’s arrival means that Sunderland have recruited two central defenders – Valentin Roberge and Modibo Diakite – and two defensive midfielders – Cabral and Ba.

Sunderland are expected to formally announce the deal in the next few days.