Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has reportedly made Sunderland star Lamine Kone a target, if he fails in his bid to sign Napoli ace Kalidou Koulibaly.
The Blues have been looking at a deal for the commanding Senegalese international all summer, but with the Serie A giants failing to identify an adequate replacement, they are keen to keep hold of their prized asset.
Koulibaly was a key member of the squad last season, helping Maurizio Sarri’s men to a second-place finish in the Italian top flight.
With a desire to keep hold of him, which in turn is leading to further frustration for Chelsea, The Daily Mail report that Conte will consider Kone instead.
The 27-year-old made 15 Premier League appearances last season for the Black Cats, scoring twice and providing an assist as he played his role in keeping the club up.
However, if Chelsea’s interest is indeed real, it’s added by the Mail that they will face competition from Everton who are also hoping to sign the Ivorian having already submitted an £18m bid.
As a result, it sets up a possible transfer battle between the two Premier League clubs with just a few weeks remaining before the deadline.
Conte will be desperate to add another central defender to his squad with John Terry and Gary Cahill his only fit senior options to start the campaign, and Kone seems to fit the bill given his all-round ability and experience of having already played in the English top flight.
It remains to be seen whether or not Chelsea still have any hope of signing Koulibaly this summer, but it’s clear that Conte is having to consider his options to avoid ending the summer transfer window with no defensive reinforcements.
The Italian boss has already brought in Michy Batshuayi and N’Golo Kante, and is seemingly looking at strengthening the spine of his team further.