Everton manager Sam Allardyce has delivered an honest assessment of Sunderland defender Lamine Kone after he was linked with a January move to Goodison Park.
Allardyce praised Kone's performances under him at Sunderland but insisted there is "no truth it at the moment" and has questioned Kone's ability to sustain a high level of performance.
The former Sunderland boss took charge of Premier League Everton last month and has since been strongly linked with a January swoop for centre back Kone.
The Ivory Coast international, currently out injured for at least another month with a knee injury, was a target for Everton in the summer of 2016 but the proposed £18million transfer didn't go through and the defender signed a new five-deal on Wearside.
Cash-strapped Sunderland could sell him next month and Everton are among the clubs linked with a move for a cut-price deal, Kone's value plummeting in the last 18-months.
His standard of performance has also dipped with Sunderland relegated from the Premier League last season and then struggling in the Championship this.
Allardyce signed Kone from French side Lorient for £5million in the 2016 January transfer window.
Asked about the transfer speculation Allardyce said: "What a shock that one is. I didn't think that one would come up. Did you?
"There's no truth in it at the moment.
"Lamine was one of the outstanding defenders who produced a remarkable run of performances when he first arrived at Sunderland to help us stay in the Premier League but since then I'm not quite sure what's happened to his career.
"It's obviously slipped way down from where he was when he performed with me so that puts a doubt about his ability to sustain that level of performance, so I'm not sure whether I'd be interested or not to be honest.
"But I found him to be not only a fantastic footballer but a fantastic lad when he was playing with me in that period of time."
Some of Sunderland’s high earners could be moved on in January to free up funds and wages, with Kone and Didier Ndong set to attract the most interest.