By Will Butcher
Sunderland are continuing to play hard-ball with Everton in their bid to prise Lamine Kone from the Stadium of Light, according to a report.
Black Cats manager David Moyes has slapped a £20million price tag on the in-demand defender after initially denying that the former Bordeaux hard-man had submitted a transfer request.
The Daily Mirror has also claimed that the 27-year-old will be offered a new contract after the transfer window closes if he decides to stay on Wearside.
The Paris-born defender was promised by former boss Sam Allardyce that if he kept the Black Cats up, then he would receive a pay rise on his deal, which still has four-years left to run.
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; chipping in with two goals.
The former Lorient stopper played the full 90 minutes for Sunderland as they suffered a 2-1 loss against Manchester City on Saturday.
In other Everton transfer news, this playmaker could join the Toffees despite interest from a Premier league rival.