Lee Cattermole is likely to be the long-term partner for Alfred N’Diaye in the middle of the park.
Seb Larsson, David Vaughan and Jack Colback have been the three main players playing that role in recent months.
But Martin O'Neill wants a long-term partner for his skipper.
Alfred N’Diaye: “I know Lee’s more defensive than me, but we’ll see.
“For me it’s not a problem. I don’t mind playing defensively or more offensively.”
Swansea striker Danny Graham is top of O’Neill’s wishlist, but Stoke City have emerged as rivals for his signature along with Norwich City. Swansea’s interest in Kenwyne Jones could also strengthen Stoke’s hand.
Sunderland – who have offered £1m less than Norwich’s £5m bid for Graham – are also looking at least one other.
Hamburg defender Paul Scharner has been offered on loan, while Barnsley defender John Stones has been watched a number of times.
But whatever dealings they conclude in the next few days, they will not be making as many new signings as rivals Newcastle United, where five new players have arrived from the French league.
And N’Diaye, who was a French Under-21 international with Senegalese descent, has his own explanation why so many players from France end up in the Premier League.
“They don’t go to the Bundesliga or Serie A, they come here,” said the 22-year-old.
“Lots of French players have had success here, and it encourages us. Newcastle almost have a full team of Frenchmen now.
“Everybody likes this league. It’s the best league in the world, with the best players.
You play fast and there are lots of goals.
“You can see games where Arsenal score seven and the opposition score three – in France that’s impossible. It’s normally 0-0 or 1-0 or 1-1, not 6-3, 7-3. It’s crazy but it’s nice because in the Premier League everyone plays offensively, to score goals. In France we play for nil-nils.”
N’Diaye represented France at Under-17s level through to the Under-21s, for whom he played seven times. He is hopeful the Premier League stage can help him to claim full international honours.
“Playing in England should make playing for the senior team easier,” said N’Diaye.
“Before I played in Turkey I’d captained the national (under-age) teams, and it was good for me when I was playing in France.
“But when I was in Turkey it became more difficult because the coach didn’t see me for long periods of time and I don’t think he believed Turkish football was so good, but he was wrong – it’s a good league.
“I think now it’s better for me because the Premier League is the best league in the world and everybody loves it.
“Every game in this league is a hard game.
“I think if I play well in this league I can play for the national team.”
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