Everton are reportedly ready to make a move for Lamine Kone in January - but would face competition for the Sunderland defender’s signature.
Kone cost Sunderland just £5m when he joined from Lorient last January and his performances in defence were one of the main reasons the Black Cats avoided relegation under Sam Allardyce.
Those displays prompted the Toffees to make a £16m bid for the Ivory Coast defender over the summer and Kone was reportedly keen on a move to Goodison Park.
However, Sunderland refused to sell and Kone ended up signing a new contract at the Stadium of Light.
But with the Black Cats currently bottom of the table and already staring relegation in the face there are rumours Kone could be on the move when the transfer window re-opens.
The Liverpool Echo is reporting that the 27-year-old remains on Everton’s wanted list - but West Ham, Chelsea and Manchester United are also keen.
The Echo claims Sunderland would want a fee in the region of £20m for the defender should he leave in January.
But even with Everton’s healthy transfer budget should they be taking a risk on a player whose performances have dipped so dramatically this season?
Kone has already shown signs of having a questionable attitude when he picked up an “injury” over the summer that stopped him playing for Sunderland amidst Everton’s interest.
Now, with Sunderland floundering, he appears to be showing a distinct lack of effort.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football Jamie Carragher was particularly scathing of Kone’s performances, saying:
“There’s one player on the pitch whose attitude has been nowhere near acceptable and that’s Kone at the back.
“He was a man mountain last season, him and Jermain Defoe virtually kept them up. Defoe at one end and Kone at the other, but he’s nowhere near where he needs to be.
“He’s causing Sunderland a massive problem.
“The players around him are nowhere near good enough. He is good enough and he showed it last season but his attitude now is becoming a major problem for Moyes.
“As much as he was the solution last season in terms of keeping them up, he’s now a massive problem.”
“Looking at the stats, in every area he’s down and let’s not forget Sunderland are worse than last season.
“Sunderland were thinking they’d done well keeping him in the transfer window.
“They’ve now got a major problem with him and I hope other managers are out there looking at him, thinking he might be a problem.
“To perform like that and the position he’s put David Moyes in and the Sunderland supporters, it’s not acceptable.”
Of course it seems Kone is already looking to move on from Sunderland and should he move to Everton in January his performances are likely to improve.
But if things go well and say a Barcelona or Bayern Munich show interest, will Kone down tools just as quickly?
There is no problem with showing ambition and wanting the best move for your career but is must be done while showing respect to your current employer.
Kone certainly isn’t doing with Sunderland at the moment and that is is something Everton must consider when weighing up another bid in January.