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The Black Cats midfielder has praised the former PSG ace, and believes he is as important to the Wearsiders as the Barcelona Ballon d'Or winner is to the Catalan giants

Sunderland midfielder Alfred N'Diaye has praised team-mate Stephane Sessegnon and hailed the Benin international as the Black Cats' very own Lionel Messi.

Sessegnon had scored just five goals in the Premier League this season before Paolo Di Canio's arrival, but the 28-year-old fired past Newcastle and Everton to make it two consecutive victories for the Wearsiders.

BEAT VILLA AND WE'RE SAFE - DI CANIO
25/1 Sunderland are 25/1 with BetVictor to go down
And N'Diaye, who played against - and struggled to contain - Sessegnon when the pair faced off in Ligue 1 several years ago, has hailed the attacker's character and ability, backing the former PSG star to fire Sunderland to safety.

"He is Messi!" The French midfielder claimed to reporters.

"The fans love him and all of his team-mates love him too. He is a great guy, a good character and the biggest thing is he is a very good player.

"For me, he is the best player in this team. He has very good quality and it is very good for us that he is a Sunderland player.

"I played against him for Nancy when I was only 18 and he was playing for PSG. It was very difficult for me. I marked him because he was playing No10 and I was playing No6. I definitely prefer playing with him rather than against him!

"Every time I played him in France I took a yellow card. Every time! It is different now in training. I stay away from him!"

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