Half-price Lamine Kone
According to Sky Sports, West Brom are weighing up a £9m bid for Sunderland centre-back Lamine Kone. The Ivorian defender is keen to leave the Stadium of Light this summer and ensure himself Premier League football next season.
Defensive mastermind Tony Pulis only has four senior centre-backs at the Hawthorns currently and is in the market for reinforcements. A move to the Baggies would unite Lamine Kone with James McClean after the pair escalated an on-pitch battle to a social media spat in April 2016.
Awarded a significant pay rise last August, Kone is one of the highest earners at the Stadium of Light and will be keen to maintain his top-tier salary.
Not that his showings in the season just ended merited it. Whilst technically one of the better defenders at the club, Kone appeared disinterested and demotivated for large parts of the campaign under David Moyes.
A maddening tendency to switch off and be beaten too easily by an opposing centre-forward, the former Lorient man's performances last term appear to have sliced his value in half.
After Sunderland rejected a bid of £18m from Everton in August 2016 for the 28-year-old, hindsight dictates that the Black Cats should have sold him then.
Kone will leave the Stadium of Light under something of a cloud after initially establishing himself as a fan favourite during his first few months on Wearside.
The centre-half was accused of refusing to play for David Moyes in Sunderland's final Premier League game. TalkSport pundit and former defender Michael Gray specifically named the player as one of a pair who allegedly feigned injury and opted to stay at home when the Black Cats travelled to Chelsea for the last match of the season.
However, since then Kone has missed two international matches for the Ivory Coast through injury - casting doubt on the claims. Some have since suspected the beleaguered Moyes may have manipulated the absence of certain players for his own ends in the final weeks of his tenure.
With the trip to Stamford Bridge coming days before Moyes met Sunderland owner Ellis Short to demand the funds to rebuild an entire new squad, it is possible that the players-refusing-to play line was exaggerated to strengthen his case in seeking the cash to purchase a whole fresh first team.
Lens - Sunderland will determine my fate
After a season in which he's spoken repeatedly of his love for Fenerbahçe and desire to stay with the Turkish club, Black Cats misfit Jeremain Lens has something of a dilemma on his hands as he supposedly lingers on the brink of a move to fierce Istanbul rivals Beşiktaş.
So what better way to save face than to blame Sunderland for controlling his destiny? At least that appears to be the tactic the Dutchman is employing.
Put on the spot on live TV to declare his future intentions, Lens told Fox Sports that he still wants to stay with Fenerbahçe but will be bound to land at the destination Sunderland opt to sell him to:
At the moment I am Sunderland's contracted player. Unless there is a change I still want to stay. I would like to continue my career at Fenerbahçe but we need the agreement of the clubs.
Lens' spell at Sunderland was underwhelming at best but after being a flop in the Premier League, he proved to be something of a hit in Turkey with 5 goals and 21 assists in the season which ended last weekend.
The winger's apparent attitude will be the lingering memory of his time at the Stadium of Light. Accused of refusing to train by Sam Allardyce, Lens' relationship with Sunderland irretrievably broke down after a disappointing stint in English football.
On his departure on loan, Lens initially took a swipe at Sunderland but then tried to make a little peace with Wearside before the mask completely slipped when he appeared to declare his hope that the Black Cats would be relegated.
On his exit last August, the 29-year-old claimed there was a fundamental issue between him and the Sunderland which he just couldn't fathom:
Sunderland would just love to get rid of me. I did not play, was not even on the bench. I just had a problem with the club. What? No idea.
Despite his issues with the club, once arrived in Turkey Lens then posted his thanks to the Sunderland fans before his now infamous TV utterance in January when he declared that relegation for the Black Cats would make his future options easier. The player was later blasted by manager David Moyes who described the remark as "disgracefully disrespectful".
In truth, relative to the fee paid for him, and his all round general demeanour, Jeremain Lens quite possibly rates as the worst of many dire Sunderland signings in recent years.