The French midfielder, a January signing from Bursaspor, said: "He is Messi! 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.
"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!"