SUNDERLAND are on the trail of Lorient centre-half Lamine Kone, according to reports in France.
The Black Cats are one of three Premier League clubs, along with West Ham and Hull, who have been watching Kone in action for the French top flight side ahead of the January transfer window.
Kone, who has made 70 appearances for Lorient since arriving in 2010, only penned a three-year extension to his contract at the Britanny club during the summer, with his current deal running until 2017.
But the interest has continued in the 24-year-old, who left the door open to moving to either the Premier League or La Liga during the summer, despite signing a new deal.
“It was not impossible for me to leave this summer, even though there has not been any concrete proposals,” said the former France Under-20 international in August.
“I extended for three years, but if there is a good offer, Lorient will not say ‘no’.”
Sunderland boosted their central defensive ranks with two additions during the summer, with Valentin Roberge and Modibo Diakite both arriving at the Stadium of Light on Bosman deals.
And despite Carlos Cuellar being ruled out for another nine weeks with a hip injury, the return to fitness of Wes Brown has strengthened Gus Poyet’s options in the heart of his back four.
But Cuellar, who is out of contract in the summer, Brown and captain John O’Shea are all in their 30s and both Roberge and Diakite have been used sparingly by Poyet.
The head coach insisted earlier this month that he was pleased by Roberge’s progress, yet the French defender has not started a game since Poyet’s first game in charge at Swansea.
Diakite has not been used at all under Poyet, with the former Lazio man’s last first-team appearance coming in Paolo Di Canio’s final game in charge at West Brom.