Stoke City enter race to sign ‘the next Michael Essien’

Mark Hughes is reportedly keen to add to his growing list of successful signings with a bid for a 21-year-old midfielder already being dubbed ‘the new Michael Essien’.

According to reports in France the Potters boss has been keeping an eye on the progress of Lorient ace Didier Ndong and is weighing up a swoop for the Gabon international.

The youngster only arrived at the Stade du Moustoir in January last year and Lorient are understood to be reluctant to part company with a player under contract until 2019.

However, with a valuation of just £875,000 Hughes will have the funds at his disposal to put the Ligue 1 side’s resolve to the test.

Ndong started his career in Tunisia with CS Sfaxien, playing 40 games and scoring two goals before Lorient came calling.

The French side currently occupy a top 10 place in Ligue 1 and can count the dominating displays in defensive midfield from Ndong as a large part of their six wins so far this season.

Stoke are understood to have sent scouts to run the rule over Ndong on more than one occasion this term and speculation is now mounting that a January bid could be in the offing.

Potters boss Hughes is on something of a hot streak with regard to recruitment with the likes of Marko Arnautovic, Joselu, Ibrahim Afellay, Xherdan Sahqiri and Bojan Krkic all helping the club to leave the direct style of play seen under Tony Pulis in the past.

Next up for City is a trip to Doncaster in the third round of the FA Cup game which sees the Potters priced up as 10/11 favourites.

Rovers can be backed at 3/1 to cause a memorable upset, with the draw on at 12/5, but with Stoke now a hub for classy European talent an away win looks more likely.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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