Aji Alese has given us the lowdown on his experiences playing with Pierre Ekwah, after the midfielder became Sunderland’s first new signing of the January transfer window.
The duo spent a year as teammates with West Ham United last season, and Alese explains the close rapport they had in East London, which he is looking forward to resuming on Wearside.
“We played the whole of last season together, after he joined West Ham from Chelsea,” he says.
“It was only the one season, but we got on well on and off the pitch. I played left-side centre-half in the U23 team and he played left-side central midfield, so we combined a lot.
“We had a great relationship as teammates, and it’s something that hopefully we can continue up here.”
The two shared a pitch 21 times in the Premier League 2 at U23 level last term, and Alese describes what Ekwah – a year his junior – can bring to Tony Mowbray’s side.
“As a player I would say Pierre’s very technical, but also strong off the ball as an athlete – tall, quick, and can move well.
“Athleticism is a part of the game which keeps getting bigger and more important, so those attributes he has can definitely help us.”
Having featured 14 times so far this season, Alese reinforces that he joined Sunderland to kick on and play regular first-team games – and believes our newest recruit can push to achieve the same.
“In the West Ham U23 team last year, we had a lot of players that were potentially ready for first-team football.
“I suppose that’s the next step in Pierre’s career now, to break in and play in a first team.
“It’s the same reason I joined in the summer – the young squad with a lot of potential, the philosophy of the club – we want to bring in and develop young players, which we’ve seen this season. Here will definitely be a good place for Pierre to showcase his talents.”