West Ham United could be set to strengthen their Premier League survival hopes – and weaken those of a relegation rival – with a January move for Sunderland’s defensive ace Lamine Kone.
The experienced Ivorian international joined the Black Cats at the beginning of 2016 and played an integral part in the club’s ‘Great Escape’ last season.
Before his arrival, they took 19 points from 23 league games. With Kone in the side, they took 20 from 15. And he proved himself a big impact player, all-but-securing survival in the penultimate game with two goals in the 3-0 defeat of Everton.
However despite struggling to repeat that form in the first part of this season, Hammers’ boss Slaven Bilic looks to have identified Kone as the solution to his own side’s defensive woes.
The east London outfit currently have the joint-second worst defence in the top-flight, and have conceded 11 goals in their last three games in all competitions.
Part of that can be explained by a series of injuries in the Irons’ backline, with James Collins, Reece Oxford and Sam Byram all sidelined. However, with all three likely to be out for some time to come, reinforcements are surely needed in January.
With the Black Cats unlikely to sell Kone for anything below the £18m needed to trigger his release clause, he won’t come cheap. But if bringing in the former Lorient man proves to be the difference between the Hammers starting next season in the Premier League or the Championship, that fee could go on to look like a bargain.
Next up for West Ham is the visit of Burnley to the Olympic Stadium tomorrow night, with 8/13 for the Irons to enjoy a fourth successive victory over the Clarets.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing