Sunderland WON'T be signing Micah Richards, as Everton and Leicester are linked with £15m Kone move

Lamine Kone
Lamine Kone
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Sunderland won't be making a move for £5million-rated Aston Villa defender Micah Richards.

Richards has a release clause in his contract after Villa's relegation to the Championship and was a Sunderland target two years ago during Gus Poyet's tenure.

But the Echo understands Sunderland - who have prioritised a new centre-back, right-back and striker - won't be making a move for Richards despite intense speculation.

It comes as Everton and Premier League champions Leicester City have both been linked with a £15million move for centre-back Lamine Kone - who starred in Sunderland's survival last season.

Kone and Younes Kaboul struck up a rock-solid defensive partnership after the 27-year-old Ivory Coast international arrived in a £5million deal from French side Lorient in January.

Sunderland's immediate focus is on adding to the squad rather than letting players go, especially one of the club's biggest assets.

New Everton boss Ronald Koeman is looking to improve his defensive options over concerns John Stones is set for a move to Manchester City, while the Echo understands Leicester have also been tracking Kone.

New chief executive Martin Bain is in France with the squad and watched on from the stands as Sunderland beat Stade Nyonnais 2-0 in the opening match.

Bain and new manager David Moyes have their work cut out to bring in the four or five quality additions needed to improve the Sunderland side.

The transfer window runs until the end of August but the new Premier League season kicks off in just over two weeks.