By Alex Stevens
Everton are preparing to lodge an improved bid for Lamine Kone this week to prise him from Sunderland, according to a report.
The Sun claim the Merseysiders will make a fresh attempt to land the centre-back and could go up to £17million for the 27-year-old.
It is said Sunderland manager David Moyes does not want to lose Kone to his old club and has stalled the deal.
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.
The Mail reported earlier this week that Goodison manager Ronald Koeman had identified Kone as a centre-back target for his new-look team and is willing to pay £16million to get him.
Koeman is insisting on landing two centre-backs this summer as John Stones is set to complete a club-record deal to Manchester City.
The Toffees had a £10million bid rejected by Swansea for the Wales captain Ashley Williams, but Sky Sports reported on their website on Thursday that manager Ronald Koeman is set to make a second bid of around £15million.
Koeman 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.