The damage is done - let's just let him go.
By all means let's dig our heels in and get as much money as possible but there is no longer any use in us keeping Lamine Kone. It feels like the relationship between the player and the club is beyond repair and a new contract won't fix that.
If Kone is so desperate for a pay rise, how do we know we'll see the same levels of commitment if we give in to his demands? What's to stop him pulling another stunt like this if someone comes in for him next summer offering even more money? Acting like this really makes you doubt what a players motivation is. Was he playing for the shirt or was he drawing inspiration from a potential chance at a bigger pay packet?
We saw how Kenwyne Jones never looked as committed as when he first arrived after being given a new deal just eighteen onths after arriving on Wearside. A bad injury didn't help Jones but it was the season after when supporters started to raise eyebrows over a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. You can draw a similar comparison to Kone, who fans have taken to because they've seen a player who looks like he'll run through brick walls for the club and, in the case of when he flattened Yaya Toure on his debut, pretty much did. But if you feel like you've proved yourself after just fifteen games, is that desire still going to be there?
I'm not saying he'd stop trying completely if we kept him, but do you keep on doing things like that if you feel like you've got nothing left to prove? You question how genuine that desire was even more when he hands in a transfer request on the eve of the season.
What I'm getting at is that the club are right to be reluctant to offer a new deal to a player who only signed seven months ago and still has four years remaining. As I just said, Kone has only played 15 games so you can't label him a legend yet. I'm not doubting his quality, and his social media personality is certainly endearing, but it's not like the club are holding out on a player who has given their heart and soul to Sunderland. If we fast forward a year and Kone has been putting in similar showings and there's a lot of interest surrounding him, then you maybe sit down and have some talks. For now though, I think it would be misguided to reward someone so handsomely when they haven't even played a full season for us.
Players come and go and they do so ridiculously frequently. It's a blow to morale and replacing his influence last season will be difficult but, as things stand, we're better off without him. I'd love to be wrong about this and see him stay, work hard and actually earn that new contract. At the moment though, that doesn't seem possible.
For all Kone has done for Sunderland, Sunderland have done a lot for Kone. Bringing him into the Premier League, raising his profile and paying him handsomely for it. I'm sure had he kept on playing as he did last season, he'd have been rewarded for it. If he wants that reward now and another club is willing to give him it, so be it. It's disappointing but not surprising, it's the way football is now. We'll look back on his time on the pitch fondly but with him being here only five minutes, it's not like a big divorce. It's just a holiday romance.