In an extraordinary twist, David Moyes today confirmed that Lamine Kone would be offered a new contract.
Following the release of a controversial statement late last night, in which the player confirmed that he had asked to leave the club, citing a belief that he "does not figure in David Moyes’ plans" after being refused a promised new contract, it looked as if the defender would depart the Stadium of Light.
But in a new twist to the saga, Moyes revealed in today’s pre-match press conference that Kone would be offered the contract at the end of the transfer window.
"Lamine is very much part of my plans," he said. "We will renew his contract on the 1st of September. Lamine is a big part of the team, the fans like him and we need him."
Now, I’m not quite sure how to feel about this.
On one hand, a Sunderland side with Kone in its ranks is undoubtedly stronger than one without. The Ivorian international made a big impact on Wearside following his January move from Lorient, forming a strong partnership with Younes Kaboul that was vital to our survival. Of course, Kone scored twice against Everton in the victory that secured our Premier League status.
And while the reported £18M fee that Everton were prepared to pay for Kone represents a huge profit after only six months, and would undoubtedly boost the transfer kitty, replacing him, particularly with the inflated transfer market we operate in, could have proved to be a tricky task. Let’s be honest, links to the likes of Shane Duffy are hardly inspiring.
On the other hand, it would appear that we have allowed Kone and his agent to hold us to ransom, ultimately giving in to their demands. Kone is likely to see a huge increase in his salary, with his agent pocketing a decent sum himself no doubt, only six months into a four and a half year contract, which could set a dangerous precedent for the club. What’s to stop Wahbi Khazri, for example, demanding a new contract after seeing his teammate engineer this move?
It will be interesting to see how Kone is received by Sunderland fans over the next few weeks, particularly after hanging the club out to dry and asking to leave. The fickle nature of football means we’ll probably adore him again in a few months’ time, but for the time being, the whole situation has left a very bitter taste in my mouth.
It remains to be seen whether Kone will actually accept the contract, but at least we now know the club’s official stance on the issue.