Sunderland should sell Everton and Crystal Palace target Lamine Kone in January to help reshape squad
The January transfer window opens in a fortnight and the future of Lamine Kone is once again in the spotlight.
The defender has been on Wearside less than two years yet every transfer window since he arrived his future has been the source of intense speculation.
Kone, signed by Sam Allardyce for £5million from French side Lorient in January 2016, is subject of interest from Allardyce’s new club Everton and Crystal Palace, while he has previously been on the radar of Brighton and West Brom too.
The Ivory Coast international isn’t due back from a knee injury until the middle of January and Kone may well have already kicked his last ball for Sunderland should the interest be firmed up with a bid.
Kone hasn’t played for Sunderland since the end of October and has only been part of a winning side twice, against Norwich City in the Championship and Carlisle United in the EFL Cup.
Yet to play under Chris Coleman through injury, Kone would struggle to get back into the side given the vastly-improved defensive performances.
Under Coleman Sunderland have kept three clean sheets out of five, conceding five goals.
The new system suits evergreen John O’Shea with additional cover either side in the shape of Tyias Browning and Marc Wilson.
Clearly at 36, O’Shea’s best days are behind him and he will have to be carefully managed but currently he is one of the first names on the team sheet.
Kone should have dominated the Championship this season, but so far his day has been very few and far between.
Cash-strapped Sunderland will be limited in terms of the business they can do next month but bringing in additional firepower is key, especially if Lewis Grabban is recalled by parent club Bournemouth.
Selling players and freeing up wages is one option.
Kone - once valued at upwards of £18million - has seen his stock and value fall dramatically amid some poor performances.
Jack Rodwell aside, wages were cut following relegation from the Premier League but Kone remains one of the top earners after signing a new bumper five-year deal in the summer of 2016.
Coleman is working hard to improve the squad but in order to achieve that it could mean the departure of some big-name players.
With renewed interest from Everton, Kone’s future is unclear but would his departure be a loss to Sunderland? Going on his form over the previous 18-months you would have to say it would not.
His value may have tumbled but even if Sunderland were to get their investment back they would surely consider it and while Coleman may not get all of that to reinvest, it would help Coleman bring in some fresh blood. Another option could be to loan Kone out for the rest of the season with a view to a permanent deal next summer.
Saturday’s victory over Fulham has breathed fresh optimism into Sunderland’s season but new additions in January are key and some players will have to be sacrificed in order to achieve it.