In recent weeks, Senegalese international players have been joining Stoke at a rate of one every 4.67 days, with Reading’s Ibrihima Sonko today completing a move to the Potteries. The 27 year old has signed a three year contract for a fee of £2 million, that could potentially rise by a further £250,000.
The centre back, famed for his prodigious leaps, which have earned him the nickname ”Superman”, becomes Stoke’s seventh signing of the summer, and third Senegalese, following Amdy and Abdoulaye Faye. Senegalese teammate Salif Diao makes up a Senegalese quartet in the Stoke squad.
Sonko was born in January 1981 in Bignona in Senegal, but moved to France when he was just six months old. He announced that he would play internationally for whichever country approached him first, and that was Senegal. He has played three times for the ”Lions Of Teranga” as the national side is known, scoring once. The senegal side had been trying to make him play for them for many years, but he claimed that he did not feel ready for international football, and only made his debut in a warm-up match for the African Cup Of Nations in Ghana earlier this year, in which he also featured. The 6’3” Sonko is the cousin of Arsenal right back Bacary sagna, who chose to play for France.
He began his club career at French side Saint-Etienne, where he never played a first team league match, before moving to Grenoble, who will feature in Ligue 1 this season after earning promotion, in 1999. He made 43 league appearances, for Grenoble, scoring twice in a three year spell, before moving to Steve Coppell’s Brentford in 2002. He made 80 league appearances for the Londoners, scoring eight goals, before following manager Coppell to Reading in 2004 on a free transfer. In his four seasons at Reading he played 127 times in the league, again scoring eight times, including three already this season, making him Stoke’s top goalscorer.
I see him as a welcome addition to the squad, who will probably become a regular starter. It will be interesting to see what happens to Ryan Shawcross now, after his comments that he may look elsewhere for football if another defender is signed.
Ibrahima will wear the number 33 shirt for Stoke, but will not play against Middlesbrough tomorrow.
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