Lamine Kone's Sunderland future has been thrown into fresh doubt after he turned down a new contract offer from the club.
Less than 24-hours later, the 27-year-old centre-back turned up to training complaining of a back injury and has since been ruled out of the game with Middlesbrough at the Stadium of Light tomorrow lunchtime (1.30pm kick-off).
Everton last week tabled a bid of £18million for the defender, who had claimed he hadn't been offered a new deal this summer which had been promised to him by the previous regime when he joined in January.
New Sunderland manager David Moyes vowed to honour that promise with the offer of a new contract on September 1. The club then decided to offer it to Kone earlier, on Thursday of this week, but it was turned down.
"We said we would wait until September 1, but we offered him a contract," said Moyes.
"We gave that offer to him personally. His choice was still to go, to leave. He said, 'No' to the offer.
"We’re disappointed, but he’s still under contract for four years so it’s not too big a deal to us. What he asked for was a new contract, and we offered him that.
"It’s not a great scenario, but the player is ours. I’ve been in situations similar to this before. The players will go when we tell them to go – not when they want to go.
"I was pleased with him last weekend, and he knew very little about his statement which went out last week, which was very surprising.
"But the situation is still the same. We’ve had an offer which we haven’t said yes or no to. And we have made him a contract offer."
Despite the latest twist, Moyes remains hopeful that Kone will remain a Sunderland player beyond the transfer deadline, which closes on August 31.
He also stressed that no player will leave Sunderland unless it is on the club's terms.
Read more on the Kone transfer saga here:
Meanwhile, Moyes insists the club is working hard to bring in more signings before the transfer window closes.
Moyes wants another striker to help support Jermain Defoe, a senior right-back and up to two midfield players the priority before August 31.
His squad has been hit by injuries with Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff, Seb Larsson, Billy Jones and now Everton target Lamine Kone out for tomorrow’s visit of Middlesbrough - with Fabio Borini a doubt.
The situation hasn’t been helped by Younes Kaboul’s transfer to Watford, a move instigated by the defender who wanted to move back south, and the ongoing situation with Kone.
Moyes is fully aware of the need to strengthen and says that work is ongoing around the clock – with hopes that the more eye-catching signings are still to come.