According to The Mirror, West Ham are lining up a bid for Sunderland want-away defender Lamine Kone.
And from a Wearside perspective, the exit of the Ivorian centre-half now can’t come soon enough. And if that brings in a decent enough fee, all parties should be entirely satisfied.
Further, The Sun’s Alan Nixon claims Black Cats boss Simon Grayson has upped his search for a new centre-back, presumably with one eye on snaffling some of the cash from the sale of Lamine Kone to bring in a replacement.
The Ivory Coast international has now spent twelve months sulking at Sunderland after David Moyes blocked his big money move to Everton last August.
Identified by a drunken teammate last weekend as one player who doesn’t give a f*ck about playing for the Black Cats, Kone’s position in the Sunderland defence is largely untenable.
Booed off the Stadium of Light pitch last Saturday against Celtic after wafting about for the best part of an hour, Lamine Kone might as well have stuck two fingers up at the Sunderland support in what may yet have been his final appearance in a red-and-white shirt.
Kone’s careless ineptitude has now become so common place that few expect anything different.
Against Celtic, the centre-back’s display was almost laughable. He’d already switched off by the fifth minute and sliced a clearance into the path of Hoops striker Callum McGregor after an utter balls-up with debutant goalkeeper Jason Steele.
A further 50 minutes of dire display followed as Kone embarked on a one-man farce on the Stadium of Light stage based on the pretence he had forgotten how to kick a football. A slap-stick routine to celebrate the ground’s twentieth birthday perhaps.
Occasionally the 28-year-old has attempted to exert himself in pre-season but truthfully, Lamine Kone has long since viewed effort in a Sunderland shirt as something that others bother themselves with. An out-right p*ss-take in truth, that has all the hallmarks of a disaster should he be selected against Derby this evening.
Sunderland will snap West Ham’s hand off should the Hammers’ reported interest be genuine though we’ve heard it all before of course. Kone has been linked with West Ham for most of the summer - them and West Brom.
What is certain though, is that the exit of the man signed for Lorient for £5m in January 2016 will likely contain some further element of the ridiculous and continue the odd two-man circus which has played out in Sunderland for over a year now. The puppet Kone dangles from a string controlled by his agent Mark McKay.
As for a replacement, few names have been seriously mooted as Black Cats’ targets of late but Sunderland’s defence has continued to look shoddy throughout the summer.
The exit of Kone will leave Everton loanee Tyias Browning - who has shown promise in pre-season - alongside either veteran John O’Shea or Papy Djilobodji.
With the former ageing rapidly, the latter appears to have so far been unable to convince Simon Grayson he is worthy of much more than a spot on the Sunderland bench.
Aston Villa’s Tommy Elphick or Aden Flint of Bristol City are the two names who immediately come to mind as those who Grayson has been linked with in recent weeks.