Everton have NOT lodged a bid for Lamine Kone - but the Sunderland defender does remain a target for the Toffees.
Reports today suggested Ronald Koeman's side had formally submitted a £14million bid for the 27-year-old Ivory Coast international.
But the Echo understands that is not the case.
Everton's interest in Kone, who joined Sunderland for £5million in January, is genuine though and the Black Cats could have a fight on their hands to keep one of their prized assets.
Everton's coffers could be swelled to the tune of £50million if Manchester City follow through their interest in John Stones, with Pep Guardiola confirming he is a target.
That would give them a sizeable transfer budget to go into the market to replace him and Kone is very much on their radar after an impressive start to his Sunderland career.
Kone joined in January from French side Lorient and quickly struck up a formidable partnership with Younes Kaboul at the heart of the defence.
It would be a major blow if Sunderland were to lose Kone - arguably the club's best defender - this summer but the club is in a strong position as Kone still has four years left to run on his contract.
Defence is an area David Moyes is already looking to strengthen with Kone, Kaboul and John O'Shea the only experienced centre-backs on the books.
The priority remains bringing in new players, not selling their best assets - with Moyes prioritising a new centre-back, right-back and striker.
But should Everton submit a huge bid then Sunderland would have to seriously consider it and weigh up if they could then use that cash to add a couple of players to the squad.
Premier League champions Leicester City are also tracking Kone, who took part in full training in France this morning.
Meanwhile, reports suggest Everton have identified Anderlecht centre back Kara Mbodji as another option to bolster their defence.
He could be available for as little as £6.2million.