Sunderland are bracing themselves for a new approach from Everton for Lamine Kone in January – despite the defender signing a new deal.
It was confirmed on Wednesday that Kone had put pen to paper on a five-year deal at the Stadium of Light but reports on Wearside claim it has been agreed in the knowledge he could still leave in the New Year.
It is thought Kone’s new terms may now have a release clause in so the Black Cats would, in future, be able to secure a higher fee for the centre-back than the £22million Everton were prepared to pay this summer.
In effect, it seems Sunderland are covering themselves by offering Kone his promised new deal he was told he would get if he helped keep them up last season while ensuring he will not leave on the cheap in January.
Everton boss Ronald Koeman was desperate to land Kone last month but Sunderland held firm with boss David Moyes insisting he would not be sold unless he could find a replacement.
Koeman remains interested, though, and is expected to make a renewed attempt to sign him when the transfer window reopens.