As the new season of the ever competitive English Premier League is on the horizon, all the teams are making necessary amendments and changes to strengthen their squad and quite rightly so. Prized assets of various sides are earmarked by their fellow rivals, and Sunderland defender Lamine Koné is reportedly attracting a lot of interest from West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City apart from their fellow Premier League outfit Everton who are also said to have kept him under their radar.
The Ivorian international was acquired from the Ligue 1 side Lorient in the January transfer window of 2016 for £6 million. He played a vital role in Sunderland’s renaissance in the second half of last season as he formed a resilient shield at the heart defence to help the then manager Sam Allardyce in avoiding relegation which looked very likely at one point. It was Koné who led the Wearside club’s backline and brought a lot of flair, physicality and solidity to his new employers.
While the reigning league champions Leicester City are seeking to expand their options at the centre-back slot owing to their Champions League commitments and to also help to offload some pressure from the central defensive duo of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth. Likewise, Everton are desperately scouting for someone to replace John Stones who is on the brink of exit and the 27-year-old is one of the highly rated defenders in the league. West Bromwich Albion are also on alert and exigent, though the Baggies might not be a very lucrative destination for the defender as it would only mean a sideways movement without much promise either.
Koné is a pragmatic defender who rarely launches himself up the pitch, thus catering thoroughly to the defensive aspects. He plays a very basic game, refrains from making tough challenges and senses danger very well. After the departure of Allardyce, he is said to be in pursuit of new ventures. According to WhoScored, Koné made 1.8 tackles, 2.1 interceptions, 9.2 clearances and 0.7 blocks per game from 15 appearances in the Premier League for the Black Cats which underlines why the reputed clubs are queuing up for him.
Meanwhile, David Moyes, who has been appointed as the new manager of Sunderland, will be left with merely two recognised central defenders if they lose Koné after Wes Brown left the club lately. One of the prime tasks for Moyes would be to ensure that the Ivorian is still held by him but on the other hand, the Scot also needs to make some necessary changes in various slots with a very limited budget. So, anything in the vicinity of £15 million might be given a second thought as Sunderland would be enjoying a biding war among the three aforementioned clubs. Irrespective of the club he finds himself in next season, Koné will be a treat to watch in his first full-season in the top tier of English football.