Slaven Bilic is lucky to have kept his place at the London Stadium intact after what was a poor show by his side in the Premier League in the previous season. The Hammers will now have to make sure that they break into the top-6 this season and the Croatian gaffer is looking high and dry for a player who can help him achieve the same.
The manager has added three attacking players to his lineup to solve the issues in front of goal but he also wants to improve on his backline and is now linked with a move for Lamine Kone from Sunderland.
Sunderland open to selling Kone
Simon Grayson, the new Sunderland coach, will have to make sure that he has the right players for the Championship next season and it looks like Kone is not in his plans. Speaking to the media after the 5-0 loss in a pre-season game against Celtic, Grayson revealed that though he would love to keep Kone at the club, that they will be ready to sell if the right price is paid.
West Ham United were linked with Kone at the start of the transfer window but reports from English news outfit Daily Star claim that West Ham United and Southampton are both interested in his signature.
Versatile and tailor made for the PL
Born and brought up in Paris, France, the 28-year old defender spent his youth career at three different clubs but only made a name for himself at French outfit Lorient, where he spent six long years, playing for the junior and the senior side. He moved to Sunderland and though he started last season strongly, was just not able to keep the Black Cats’ goal away from danger.
Known for his strength and domination in the air, Kone is a beast of a defender, who not many forwards will want to face. Exceptional with his hold up play, the Ivory Coast international loves to dribble past opponents even in dangerous areas but his passing needs a bit of polishing.
Also capable of playing at right-back, Kone has 126 Ligue 1 appearances and 45 Premier League appearances to go with nine appearances for the national side and is an established centre back in Europe.
Competition at West Ham
The Hammers already have a well-stacked backline with the likes of Jose Fonte (33), James Collins (33), Winston Reid (29) and Angelo Ogbonna (29) all first team choices for Slaven Bilic. Kone, if he moves to the London Stadium, will be their youngest defender, even at 28.
The Sunderland man has been erratic at times at the Stadium of Light but playing alongside some experienced internationals in Fonte and Reid, he will surely become a better player. He can also walk into the first team if Bilic decides to go into the next season with a 3-man backline.
Collins and Fonte won’t be at the club for too long and could actually act as backups to Kone, Reid and Ogbonna, who could be the first choice. But is Kone a decent option for the Hammers?