After playing a pivotal role in Sunderland’s top flight survival bid last season, Kone was strongly linked with a move away from the Stadium of Light during the summer – most notably with Chelsea and Everton. In fact, the Toffees reportedly tabled two transfer bids for the former Lorient man, the largest worth around £22million, and Kone is alleged to have even travelled to Merseyside in an attempt to force through a move to Goodison Park.
However, Kone later claimed his motivation for seeking a move away was the club failing to come good on the promise of a new contract and a few weeks later, the Black Cats obliged – agreeing a five-year deal with the Ivory Coast international.
Well, as you may have noticed from the Premier League table, things aren’t going too well for winless Sunderland this season. No doubt, Kone must take some responsibility for their worrying form, which has seen Moyes’ boys concede 20 times already this season and fail to keep a single clean sheet in ten Premier League outings.
Jamie Carragher ripped the 27-year-old apart during this week’s edition of Monday Night Football but nonetheless, he still appears to be desired by some of Sunderland’s Premier League rivals, namely summer suitors Everton as well as West Ham – at least, according to Mirror Football.
An interesting question. On the surface, neither the Toffees nor the Hammers are particularly short at centre-half. Well, not short enough to pay the kind of £22million transfer fee mooted for Kone earlier in the summer. But both clubs have a similar problem; they only have three senior options, with the fourth-choice role currently occupied by Mason Holgate and Reece Oxford respectively.
Fans may feel their teams have more immediate concerns in January – West Ham, for example, are in desperate need of an indisputable choice at right-back. But Slaven Bilic and Ronald Koeman have both experimented with three-man defences this season and their shared interest in Kone suggests intentions to utilise that formation more regularly – with more experienced back-up options – in the second half of the campaign.
In our opinion, not massively. Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka have formed a fantastic partnership since the former’s arrival during the summer, whilst Ramiro Funes-Mori, for all his flaws, is almost purpose-build for the left central role in a back three. West Ham, likewise, have two solid options in Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna, with the experienced James Collins or defensive midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate coming in to finish off their potential back three. Overall, Kone wouldn’t be a massive improvement on any – but he would certainly add defensive depth to Everton and West Ham’s squads.
Here’s a look at his form this season compared to the Toffees and Irons’ current options, based on per-game metrics, courtesy of Squawka.