By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Sunderland have offered Lamine Kone a new £50,000-a-week contract to stop him going to Everton, according to a report.
The Sun claim the centre-back would land a 50 per cent pay rise if he agrees to the four-year deal that was placed on the table on Thursday.
It is said that Kone is close to committing to the new offer, which was made after Sunderland rejected a £14million bid for the defender from Everton.
Sunderland are trying to fend off interest from the Merseysiders, who have been pursuing Kone after being impressed by his displays in the centre of defence since his January move from French club Lorient.
The north-east club are increasingly hopeful that their swift action will be enough to persuade the 27-year-old to reject Everton and remain at the Stadium of Light beyond the 31 August transfer window cut-off.
Kone released a statement last week to explain that he had handed in a transfer request after Sunderland failed to deliver on their promise to offer him a new deal if he helped to keep them up last season.
It appears that relations between the player and the club have now thawed and there is a growing possibility he will still be Sunderland in September.
The Toffees are keen to sign another centre-back after allowing John Stones to leave Goodison Park and join Manchester City in a £47.5million deal.
They have brought in Swansea captain Ashley Williams but manager Ronald Koeman is keen for more depth at the heart of his defence.
Kone signed for the Black Cats in January following an impressive stint in France’s top tier, and impressed during Sunderland’s fight against relegation with his resolute displays at the club.
The former Lorient stopper played the full 90 minutes for Sunderland as they suffered a 2-1 loss against Manchester City last Saturday.
In other Everton transfer news, Yannick Bolasie has revealed that Romelu Lukaku has been “badgering him for ages” to move to the Toffees this summer.