Lamine Kone has been sporting a “massive smile” after finally completing his Sunderland move at the end of a turbulent transfer window.
Sunderland’s pursuit of Kone proved to be something of a January saga after two moves for the Ivory Coast international fell through and the Black Cats appeared to have shelved their interest.
But when Sporting Lisbon approached Sunderland to sign Sebastian Coates, the Black Cats made a fresh bid for fellow centre-half Kone on Tuesday night, with French side Lorient accepting a £5million offer.
Sunderland wrapped up a move for the 26-year-old within 24 hours and Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce says all parties are relieved that there has been a happy ending to the pursuit.
Allardyce said: “The smile on his face was massive on Wednesday night, when he finally got to grips with what has been a very, very difficult period for him.
“It’s been harder for him than us.
“We found it difficult negotiating the deal, but for him, the to-ing and fro-ing must have been terrible.
“He must have sat at home sometimes thinking ‘are all my dreams going to be shattered?’
“He tells me this has been his dream for a long time, to play here in the Premier League.
“When somebody is talking about fulfilling his dreams, you get a good feeling about that.”
Despite Sunderland’s precious position in the relegation battle, Kone showed no hesitation in penning a four-and-a-half year deal at the Stadium of Light.
And Allardyce admits that hasn’t been the case with a host of players that Sunderland have approached in this window.
“He wouldn’t have signed on the dotted line if he didn’t think he could get us out of trouble,” added Allardyce.
“One of the big things in terms of players in has been the relegation threat.
“There’s financial implications, as well as ‘do I want to join a relegation battle?’
“I dread to think how many negotiations we’ve done. It’s a huge amount.
“But now, we’ve got Dame (N’Doye) Jan (Kirchhoff) and Lamine in, who are three players that will hopefully make a difference.”