AIK And IFK Göteborg Interested In Sebastian Larsson
Sebastian Larsson, just returning to the fringes of the Sunderland first team following a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury, is interesting two clubs in his home country.
That is according to reports in Sweden. AIK of Stockholm and IFK Gothenburg are the two Swedish top-flight clubs rumoured to be pondering a move for the 31-year-old.
Larsson has been with Sunderland for five years and has been in England for fifteen. He made three appearances for Arsenal as a nineteen-year-old before moving to Birmingham City.
Steve Bruce brought the Swedish international to the Stadium of Light in 2011 and he has since played over 150 games in a Sunderland shirt.
Larsson's agent, Per Jonsson - who is never backwards in extolling the career choices of his client as transfer windows and contract negotiations loom - confirmed the interest in discussion with Swedish outlet, Soccer Direct.
Jonsson also spoke of approaches from Asia but said for now Larsson is concentrating on getting back in the Sunderland side, feeling 'perfectly healthy' for the first time in two years.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the club the player turned out for in his youth, IFK Eskilstuna, recently told Swedish media of his dream that Sebastian Larsson might one day return saying "It would be a party for the whole town and Eskilstuna football".
The Day A Deer Nearly Killed Lamine Kone
There’s a curious tale to be told about Sunderland defender Lamine Kone. One of fate and circumstance. One which might just put the man who has gone from hero, to something a little more tarnished, into context.
The story features here, but allow us to retell it in English.
Lamine Kone made his professional debut nearly a decade ago for French second division side LB Chateauroux. He had joined the club's youth academy as a fourteen-year-old and stayed until the age of twenty-one.
It was during this spell that he found himself in a car with three teammates on a quiet forest road. Lamine was listening to music as the other passengers dozed. The car was driven by fellow central defender, Simon Loppe, when it was involved in a collision with a deer.
Kone was thrown more than twenty metres from the vehicle and his fellow passengers were scattered likewise. When the emergency services arrived, they immediately asked how many were dead such was the severity of the accident. Ultimately, no one was killed purely by fate of being thrown from the vehicle rather than crushed inside it.
Stephane Kakoe, Lamine Kone's good friend, suffered a fractured spine. Kone's injuries were substantial - to his head and he suffered from severe swelling to the brain; doctors put him in an induced coma. Eventually he was discharged to recover at home, but he couldn't stand up for a further three weeks.
Reflecting on the accident five years later, Kone said:
This kind of incident makes you grow. After such an event, you learn many things. You're aware of having a second chance, so you give yourself thoroughly, and you want to live life to the full.
And perhaps some of it explains the apparent quest for cash and ambition-for-more that Lamine Kone has been on since he arrived in England. The Ivorian centre-half established himself quickly in the Premier League last season under the stewardship of Sam Allardyce, but has been uninspiring this term.
In truth, Kone wasn't the only defender who benefited from the influence of 2 'A's - Adrenaline and Allardyce. None of the back four who aided Sunderland to safety in a great run of form in the final third of last season have been able to maintain it this campaign. When the going got tough, the Big Sam back-four got going; but none have continued their showings into this term.
Lamine Kone irked Sunderland fans by openly courting Everton in the summer and staging a near one-man mutiny in a quest for more money and to cash-in quickly on a supposed promised new contract.
His central defensive colleague Younes Kaboul left for Watford and has featured in a leaky back-line for the hornets conceding 17 goals in the 11 games in which he has played. He lasted twenty minutes at the weekend before being withdrawn with a knee injury.
Big Sam's full-backs have fared little better. Sunderland's Patrick van Aanholt has regressed to some shaky performances which have blighted his pre and post-Allardyce career; and DeAndre Yedlin, who was transformed under the former-England boss, has been in and out of the starting eleven at Newcastle.
As for Kone, he may well be away in January - with West Ham currently favourites to land the 27-year-old. Either way, the Ivorian will miss the start of the new year as he heads to Gabon to turn out in the Africa Cup of Nations.