Simon Grayson has been impressed with Didier Ndong’s impact in the Championship – amid interest in the Sunderland midfielder.
The 23-year-old – who joined from Lorient last summer for a club record £13.6million fee – has started the new campaign well and his performances have not gone unnoticed.
Lyon are reported to be keeping tabs on the box-to-box midfielder ahead of the transfer window closing at the end of this month.
It is understood Ndong is not Lyon’s top transfer target with Celta Vigo midfielder Pape Cheikh Diop also on their radar but Ndong is on a list of potential Lyon targets and news of their interest will raise a few eyebrows on Wearside.
Sunderland host Leeds United at the Stadium of Light tomorrow teatime (KO 5.30pm).
Ahead of the game Grayson has praised Gabon international Ndong, who has formed a quick understanding with Lee Cattermole in central midfield after Cattermole missed the bulk of last season with a hip injury.
“I knew a little bit about him but when you are working with players closely you see them in a different light,” said Grayson.
“He has unbelievable athleticism and work rate, and good quality on the ball too.
“That is why he was a £13.6million player.
“He is still young and adapting to the British way of football, it is never easy when you are in a team that is finding it difficult in the Premier League but he looks like he is enjoying himself and is doing what I am asking him to do.
“Long may that continue.”
Sunderland, as Grayson has been stressing, are vulnerable to bids for their star players before the window closes with Lamine Kone and Wahbi Khazri among those tipped to leave Wearside.
As yet Sunderland are yet to receive any bids while Grayson and chief executive Martin Bain continue the hard work of looking to add to the squad.
Max Gradel was a target and a deal had been agreed with AFC Bournemouth for the forward but he instead opted to join Toulouse on a season-long loan as his family wanted to return to France.
Work is ongoing to secure Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack on a season-long loan deal with Grayson stressing the need for patience in pursuit of further targets.
Sunderland have added seven new faces with Grayson keen to add further depth. Preston North End striker Jordan Hugill remains a target.
The transfer window doesn’t close until August 31 and Grayson reiterated his stance that it should close before the season kicks off in the aftermath of the draw with Sheffield Wednesday.
“I think it is totally against what you are trying to do as a manager, you are trying to get your group together and want to know where you are,” said Grayson.
“We have talked about this over the past few weeks, we are vulnerable to players leaving as every other club in the country and Europe is too.”