ALFRED N’DIAYE is confident Sunderland fans will see the best of him next season after enduring a baptism of fire in his first few months in the Premier League.
The Frenchman was a £3.8m signing from Turkish side Bursaspor in the January transfer window and the 23-year-old midfielder impressed on his full debut in the 3-2 win at Wigan Athletic.
At that time things were starting to look rosy – N’Diaye having made his first appearance in Sunderland colours as a substitute in the previous game, the 3-0 win over West Ham – as the Wearsiders recorded back-to-back victories.
But then followed Sunderland’s precipitous slump which led to Martin O’Neill’s sacking and the club fighting a desperate relegation battle as they were dragged inexorably towards the bottom three.
N’Diaye struggled to replicate his opening form in that run as Sunderland struggled to accumulate points and he found it difficult at times as he tried to adjust to the pace and power of English Premier League football.
But he is confident now that he will come back a better player next season on the back of his first four months football in this country.
“I am looking forward to my first full season, after joining halfway through in January,” he said.
“And I think I will be better next season because I know more about English football than when I came here.
“I know my team-mates better now and I know things like how they want to receive the ball.
“I think I am better now than I was in January, and I hope I will carry on improving.
“I would like to score more goals, because I scored four or five goals in Turkey – it’s not my main job, but I want to contribute.”
The former French Under 21 international spent three seasons playing in France for Nancy, before moving to Bursaspor in 2011.
But he says none of that experience was much of a preparation for life in the Premier League.
“It is very different to Turkish football and to French football,” he said. “It is a different style and when I first came here it took me time to realise that.
“Now I know more about English football and I am more comfortable playing here. The more games I play, the better I will be.”