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Sunderland: Abdoullah Ba could be Tony Mowbray’s Paul Pogba

Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman was a busy man throughout the summer transfer window as he attempted to improve the squad ahead of the Championship campaign.

He brought in the likes of Daniel Ballard, Ellis Simms, Edouard Michut, Jack Clarke, Leon Dajaku and Amad Diallo, among others, to bolster their options across the pitch.

Some of the signings were made for the here and now, with Clarke and Simms becoming regular starters almost instantly, but others have been made with a view to them having a greater impact in the future.

One of the players who fall into the latter category is central midfielder Abdoullah Ba, someone the Black Cats snapped up from French side Le Havre in the summer.

He had played 27 first-team matches for his previous club, with 26 of those coming in Ligue 2, but is very much a young player who is still adjusting to senior football at the age of 19.

Is Ba a future star?





The youngster, who has been called up for France at five different age groups, should not be expected to come in and be a key player for Sunderland in the Championship at his age as he lacks experience at first-team level.

Instead, he should be looked at as a player who could develop into a crucial talent for Tony Mowbray and the former Blackburn Rovers boss could turn him into his own version of Paul Pogba.

The Black Cats head coach could work with the young talent to help him grow into becoming a regular fixture at senior level, with the teenager having the scope to become a key part of the team in the future.

His former manager Paul Le Guen once claimed that he has “similarities” with Pogba, who also came through the Le Havre academy, and hailed the youngster’s potential, saying: “Of course, he still has a long way to go to reach the heights of these three, but I believe he has the potential and strength to become a star on the pitch.”

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Sunderland striker Ross Stewart in action

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In Ligue 2 last term, Ba won 61% of his individual duels and made 0.6 key passes per game, whilst Pogba created 0.7 chances per match and won 59% of his duels in six World Cup qualifiers for France. The now-Juventus talent managed 1.2 key passes per outing and won 49% of his battles in the Premier League for Manchester United in 2021/22.

These statistics suggest that both players are combative in midfield and like to get their head up in order to pick out a forward pass to start attacks for their teams.

Of course, Ba still has a long way to go before matching Pogba’s achievements in the game, as the Frenchman has won the World Cup and played over 100 matches in both the Premier League and Serie A.

The Sunderland prodigy may not end up being as good as his compatriot but, given the statistics and Le Guen’s comments, he could be Mowbray’s own version of the 29-year-old if he is able to fulfil his potential and break into the Sunderland team.