By Alex Stevens
Lamina Kone has travelled to Merseyside to sign for Everton after they tabled an £18million bid for him, according to a report.
The Mail claim the Sunderland centre-back was seen posing with an Everton fan after travelling down in anticipation of a deal being agreed on Monday.
It is said that Ronald Koeman’s team have offered £18million for the defender as they prepare for John Stones’ exit.
However, the two clubs remain apart in negotiations and a deal has not yet been secured.
The Mail report that Sunderland manager David Moyes is reluctant to sanction a sale without lining up replacements and has asked about players in return as part of negotiations.
Kone’s sale would represent a massive £13million profit in seven months for Sunderland after they signed him from Lorient for £5million in January.
The Black Cats are offering Kone a new contract that will double his wages to £50,000-a-week to convince him to stay as well as a contract extension beyond his current four years.
There were widespread reports last week that Koeman had identified Kone as a centre-back target for his new-look team and is willing to pay to get him.
The Everton boss is insisting on landing two centre-backs this summer as Stones is set to complete a club-record deal to City.
The Toffees had a £10million bid rejected by Swansea for the Wales captain Ashley Williams, but Sky Sports reported on their website last Thursday that Koeman is set to make a second bid of around £15million.
The Dutchman also admires Kone’s no-nonsense approach to defending with the Ivory Coast international impressing towards the end of last season as Sunderland narrowly avoided relegation thanks to a string of excellent results.
Kone arrived at the Stadium of Light in January from Ligue 1 and helped his side secure safety with 15 appearances and two goals.
The Frenchman is under contract until 2020 at Sunderland, but Everton are reportedly confident they can convince new manager David Moyes to part with the centre-back.
West Brom and Leicester are also thought to be interested in acquiring Kone’s services.
In other Everton transfer news, they have agreed terms for a midfielder who has signed a four-year contract.