With less than two weeks until the new Premier League season kicks off, Sunderland fans can expect a new face in the centre of defence, with the Black Cats lining up Anderlecht unit Kara Mbodji as a replacement for Lamine Kone.
As part of the central defender merry-go-round, Everton are looking at Kone to fill in if or when John Stones heads to Man City, and so Sunderland must play their part too.
New boss David Moyes hasn’t had much time to prepare his new team, but the former Manchester United boss is now ramping up preparations in the north-east.
Senegal international Mbodji has only been with the Belgian giants for 12 months, but his performances last season had a number of clubs looking at him, including West Ham, after helping the Paars-Wit to the joint-meanest defence in the Jupiler League last season.
Mbodji started 26 times last term, missing just four regular season games, with Anderlecht conceding in three of those where he was absent.
No-one could argue Kone didn’t play a huge role in keeping Sunderland up after joining in January, but at almost 6ft 3in, 26-year-old Mbodji is both taller and younger.
The centre-half began his career with Tromso in Norway, earning a move to Genk in 2013.
After two seasons, the centre-half was moving up the order again, this time to Anderlecht, and now a Premier League move is on the cards.
Moyes will also relish the Senegalese’s versatility, with Mbodji capable of playing as a defensive midfielder or in a more central role.
And with Everton reportedly ready to pay up to £18m for Kone’s services, Sunderland will be making a profit, as Mbodji is believed to be available for only £8m.
So he’s younger, taller and cheaper, and if he can settle into the English game this could represent from shrewd business from the Black Cats.
With days rather than weeks remaining until the new campaign, Moyes has plenty of work to do, and the Scot has been linked with moves for Adnan Januzaj and Marouane Fellaini.
But if they’re to avoid another relegation battle, a solid defence is a must, and though losing Kone would be a blow, it seems Sunderland are prepared to fill the gap with a player of big potential.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.