Sunderland are one of a dozen Premier League sides keeping tabs on French side Lorient, with centre-half Lamine Kone thought to be the subject of the Black Cats’ interest.
Sam Allardyce made a scouting mission across the Channel last month after watching Lorient’s defeat to PSG, and Sunderland again watched the Ligue 1 outfit’s clash against Nice last week.
The Black Cats were not alone, with another 10 Premier League sides represented at the game.
It is thought that Ivory Coast international Kone is the player on Sunderland’s radar, with his agent, Mark McCay, admitting that the 26-year-old is attracting significant interest from the Premier League.
“I am speaking to several clubs who are ready to make an offer for Lamine in January,” he said last week.
Sources in France have indicated that Kone has been keen on a move to the Premier League for more than a year and had expected to leave Lorient last summer, when Sunderland and West Ham were both linked with him.
However, Lorient insist they received no concrete offers for the Parisian, while his departure next month could be complicated by the injury to fellow centre-half Wesley Lautoa.
Lorient want to sign a replacement, before they sanction Kone’s exit.
Sunderland are in need of reinforcements in the heart of their back four in January though, with veteran Wes Brown – who is fit-again after a knee problem – the only available cover for the 3-5-2 system which has proved successful over recent weeks.
Allardyce insisted last week that Sunderland couldn’t afford to narrow their search for transfer window additions to just one position, when asked about the lack of centre-halves.
“I don’t know if we can be position-specific for January,” he said.
“Obviously, you target positions which are more important than others.
“But if somebody popped up in another position that wasn’t as big a priority, but could be a massive bonus to the club and could make us better, then you’re still going to try to sign him.”
However, Allardyce has admitted that he may have to abandon the 3-5-2 set-up and revert to an orthodox back four if one of John O’Shea, Younes Kaboul or Sebastian Coates is ruled out.