Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Told BA Isn't the Finished Article; Cats Told Target Isn't the Finished Article

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Told BA Isn't the Finished Article; Cats Told Target Isn't the Finished Article

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

SUNDERLAND have been warned that transfer target El-Hadji Ba is a long way from being Premier League-ready by the 19-year-old's current club.

The Black Cats have followed the lead of neighbours Newcastle United by scouting for young talent in France. Their investig-ations have led them to Le Havre's Ba (pictured left). A renowned breeding ground, the Ligue 2 club are used to losing their top players, but the chairman of their education centre, Johann Louvel, is hopeful Ba will not leave just yet.

The fact Ba is still on a trainee contract and free to leave in the summer means he is powerless to intervene if Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur or Borussia Dortmund follow up their interest.

"I hope there won't be any developments (over Ba's future)," Louvel told French sports paper L'Equipe.

"We will meet his representatives soon and we hope to find an agreement for everyone's interest."

Ba revealed Sunderland's interest in January, declaring himself "flattered" by it.

Whether simply an attempt by Louvel to delay the seemingly inevitable or not, he has suggested the defensive midfielder does not yet have the stamina to play in a top league. "He still has difficulties to hold on more than one hour (in a game), so he still has to make a lot of basic work to be able to repeat efforts," he said. "So I cannot see any sport or financial interest for him to leave us." That said, Sunderland probably do not see Ba as a player to go directly into their first team, but one for their academy coaches to refine, so whether that less than glowing recommendation would actually put them off is doubtful. Ba has played for his country at under- 18, under-19 and under-20, forming a productive partnership with another Le Havre graduate, Juventus' Paul Pogba. …

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