Lamine Kone opens up on failed Everton move - and reveals how much Toffees were willing to pay Sunderland
Lamine Kone has claimed Everton made three bids - worth up to Â£25m in total - for him in the summer of 2016.
Everton wanted to sign the central defender two summers ago after a storming start to his career on Wearside, Kone helping the Black Cats stay up against the odds under Sam Allardyce in 2015-16.
Kone was the centre of fierce transfer speculation that summer with Everton keen on landing the Ivory Coast international.
Then Sunderland boss David Moyes was unwilling to let Kone - who had handed in a transfer request - leave Wearside and he stayed for a further two seasons.
His popularity, much like his form, dipped alarmingly over the past two years after an impressive initial six-months at Sunderland.
Kone, speaking about the failed move to Everton, told L’Equipe: "There have been three offers, £18m, £20m and £25m. Six months before, Sunderland had bought me for €6m from Lorient. It was amazing. I started with Châteauroux, the second division club in France.
"It was amazing to see this offer. I was coming out of a period where on my first matches in England, I scored three goals and an assist. It was huge.
"At that time, I missed the train [of joining Everton]. It was a turning point. They [the leaders of Sunderland] blocked my transfer."
Asked if he’d wanted to move, Kone said: "I could have known another career, that’s for sure. But nothing is lost. Strasbourg gave me an opportunity to get back on my feet.”
This week, Kone joined Strasbourg on a season-long loan deal, with the Ligue 1 side paying a loan fee and his wages for the season.
Kone had been training away from the first team at Sunderland since returning to pre-season.
Getting his wages off the bill is a huge financial boost to Sunderland as the Black Cats look to balance the books as they rebuild in League One.