Richard Mennear: Time for Kone to sign new Sunderland contract and let his football do the talking
Throughout transfer deadline day, all eyes were on which players would be joining Sunderland before the window of opportunity closed for another four months.
Would Sunderland sign that striker they so desperately needed?
Would a new keeper arrive to provide back-up, cover and competition for Jordan Pickford?
Would Yann M’Vila finally arrive?
Sadly, the answer to all of those questions, for now, was no.
Sunderland did smash their transfer record, with Dider Ndong arriving from French side Lorient for a record £13.6million.
Manchester City centre-back Jason Denayer also signed on a season-long loan.
It may not feel like it, but Sunderland did bring in eight new players this summer, yet one of the most significant transfer deals is the one that didn’t go through.
Everton target Lamine Kone remained a Sunderland player.
His potential £18million move had dominated the transfer window for much of August, but, in the end, he remained on Wearside.
It was eerily quiet, almost too quiet, as if a transfer bombshell was going to be dropped on the stroke of 11pm.
Thankfully, the move never materialised, despite Everton’s initial bid earlier in the window.
The 27-year-old is a key player for Sunderland, make no mistake.
His partnership at the back with either Denayer or Papy Djilobodji – or possibly both if David Moyes goes with a back three – will be key to the Black Cats’ survival hopes this campaign.
That said, bridges still need to be rebuilt after a summer of uncertainty with Kone and/or his representatives pushing for a new deal or move away.
Sunderland always said they would honour that promise of a new contract, made when Kone arrived from Lorient for £5million in January.
After Everton’s bid in early August, a statement was put out in Kone’s name claiming he wanted a move after Sunderland had failed to offer him the promised new deal – a claim rejected by the club.
The player was said to be surprised when later shown the statement, claiming to know nothing about it.
But the episode left a bad taste in the mouth.
When Sunderland did offer Kone a new deal ahead of the Middlesbrough game, it was turned down and less than 24 hours later Kone complained of a bad back.
It led to him missing the game against Boro and the EFL Cup win over Shrewsbury Town.
He was reinstated to the starting line-up for the trip to Southampton after recovering from injury.
Before the game, he tweeted: “Game Day! Can’t wait to play. The field is the best place to show that I love my club and the fans!”
Another way is to sign the new and improved contract offer on the table, rebuild those bridges damaged in recent weeks and move on – by helping Sunderland move in the right direction on the pitch.
Moyes deserves credit for his stance and approach to the saga throughout the summer, holding firm and not bowing to the pressure.
Sunderland gave Kone his move to the Premier League and have been good to him since; it is time to repay some of that faith.
It is time to draw a line under the whole episode and for Kone to let his football do the talking. On the pitch.