David Moyes insisted it was ‘not outrageous’ of Sunderland to expect Lamine Kone to commit himself to the club months after signing a long-term contract.
Moyes has responded firmly to the first test of his authority as Sunderland manager, demanding that the centre-half wait until the transfer window closes before he discusses a new deal, which is likely to be a one-year extension.
The 27-year-old Ivorian international signed a four-year contract in January when moving to Wearside from Lorient. Last week Kone travelled to Merseyside in an attempt to force a transfer to Everton and then his agent released a statement saying: “I have asked the manager and chief executive to be allowed to leave Sunderland Football Club.” Everton are prepared to pay up to £18m for the defender.
Moyes said he would use the experience he gained at Everton and Manchester United to deal head on with Kone, who performed well in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.
“We have received an offer from Everton but we have also said we would give him a contract on September 1,” said Moyes. “We just feel that I have been in the job three weeks, Martin Bain (the chief executive) has been in the job three weeks and we are trying to add players to the club.
“The player has a four-year contract and it is not outrageous to ask him to wait a couple of weeks just to the end of the window so we can concentrate on what we are doing.
“We are disappointed that position has not been accepted because things have been said that didn’t need to be said.”
Moyes added that he had not received a formal transfer request from Kone and said that when he showed the player his own statement, “the boy appeared surprised.”
Moyes has spoken to the Everton chairman, Bill Kenwright, who remains a good friend after Moyes’s 11 years at Goodison Park.
“I have dealt with one or two of these situations at my previous clubs,” he said. “The big thing is that we are short of players whether they are centre-halves, midfielders or full-backs. I will not be letting anyone go who I think can contribute to the team and Kone makes a big contribution.”
Moyes’s other task is to coax more from Adnan Januzaj and Jack Rodwell, two highly-talented but erratic footballers whom he managed at Manchester United and Everton. On Saturday, Rodwell provided the pass that produced Jermain Defoe’s equaliser.
“It is the same for Jack as it is for Adnan,” said Moyes. “Jack needs to stop being potential and decide whether he is driven to be one of the best midfield players.
“He is someone who has a lot of the attributes you need to be a good footballer but he needs to show it now because he has had a few clubs and a few managers.”
The fuss over Pep Guardiola’s Premier League debut meant Moyes’s return to the English game more than two years after the debacle of Manchester United was rather overlooked. Despite the defeat, this was an encouraging beginning.
“It is great to be back, doing what I should be doing,” he said. “It is not going to be an easy job managing Sunderland, that’s for sure. But I am using Everton as my guide, how we brought in young boys and boys who were maybe a bit below the top level and made them into a team.”
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