Chris Young: Sunderland may cash in on Lamine Kone in January – and no one would miss him

Sunderland defender Lamine Kone in action against Arsenal on Saturday.
Sunderland defender Lamine Kone in action against Arsenal on Saturday.
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Fireworks and an ear-drum shattering rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner are somewhat unnecessary steps before kick-off.

The sense of pageantry in US sports really does know no bounds, and there was plenty on show prior to LA Galaxy’s clash against Colorado Rapids last weekend in the unfathomably complicated MLS Cup play-offs.

It’s been intriguing watching the MLS up close though and seeing if the cliches about ‘soccer’ improving on the other side of the pond actually bear any substance.

In fairness, some of the attacking play is decent – perhaps even Championship standard. The defending on the other hand...well, it’s evident that the big money in the league goes on attackers and midfielders, rather than reinforcements at the back.

Dispiritingly, the inability to do the basics is startlingly familiar. Tune into a trans-Atlantic broadcast from the Stadium of Light and defensive embarrassment abounds.

Papy Djilobodji gets no better. He has shown no more command of his man or his area than Valentin Roberge or Modibo Diakite before him. Neither of them cost £8million either.

But Djilobodji’s failings have become so familiar that the inability to get close to Olivier Giroud for either of the Frenchman’s two goals last weekend was little surprise.

Even more frustrating has been the deterioration in Lamine Kone.

At West Ham seven days earlier, Kone produced arguably his best display of the campaign, albeit the Hammers were somewhat toothless in the final third, other than the quick feet of Dimitri Payet.

Yet while Alexis Sanchez’s movement for Arsenal’s opener was top notch, Kone didn’t even emerge from the turf and likewise allowed Giroud to get in between Sunderland’s centre-halves for the game-ending second.

Clearly, the departure of Younes Kaboul’s organisational qualities has had a huge affect on Kone, but his body language is dreadful too.

The 27-year-old has never looked mentally right after the shenanigans involving that proposed move to Everton during the summer.

“There’s one player whose attitude on the pitch this season has been nowhere near acceptable and I think that’s Kone at the back,” was the frankly, spot-on, assessment of Sky pundit Jamie Carragher earlier this week.

You have to wonder if David Moyes now has a regret or two about not banking £14million-plus from selling Kone. That would have given him a decent purse to strengthen the side, rather than having to rely on signing the cast-offs from elsewhere.

Moyes’ strong stance on Kone was understandable.

The ex-Everton boss had only been at the club two minutes and realistically, couldn’t risk his authority being undermined by allowing one of the star-men from the survival surge to depart after just six months in a red and white shirt.

It would have sent out a dreadful message about surrendering to the mercenary qualities of modern players, if he had sanctioned Kone’s exit.

Ultimately though, Kone may well get an extra few quid in his pay packet AND a move to a club further up the Premier League pecking order.

Speculation last weekend that the likes of Everton, West Ham and Manchester United are circling over a January move for Kone was no surprise, despite his poor form. That new Sunderland contract was only a short-term measure to keep him at the Stadium of Light.

If Sunderland are cast adrift at Christmas, then the reality is that they have to look at beginning the process of balancing the books by offloading their saleable assets. Kone, along with Jordan Pickford, is the player who promises the most compensation.

Considering the manner in which Sunderland have defended so far this season, then fresh faces at the back – particularly those who would remain part of the team in the Championship – are going to be imperative and Moyes (if he is still at the helm) would be able to bring in two or three from the funds recouped by Kone’s exit.

No one would particularly miss Kone either if he did go – a statement which would been inconceivable three or four months ago.

All that ‘Team Kone’ malarkey on social media immediately became redundant when the Ivory Coast international and his agent conspired to get a move to Goodison Park.

After being one of the heroes of Sunderland’s last escape from the drop, he’s resorted to unforgivably switching to auto-pilot in their attempt to do likewise yet again.