Ivorian defender Lamine Kone claims that EFL League One club Sunderland blocked a potentially career-changing transfer to Everton back in 2016.
Kone, who has joined French club Strasbourg on loan for the 2018/19 season, told L’Equipe that two years ago the Black Cats refused to sell despite receiving an offer that would have seen them make a massive profit on him in a short space of time.
“There have been three offers, £18m, £20m and £25m. Six months before, Sunderland had bought me for €6m from Lorient. It was amazing. I started with Chateauroux, the second division club in France.
“It was amazing to see this offer. I was coming out of a period where on my first matches in England, I scored three goals and an assist. It was huge.
“At that time, I missed the train [of joining Everton]. It was a turning point. They [Sunderland] blocked my transfer.”
Asked if he’d wanted to move, Kone said: “I could have known another career, that’s for sure. But nothing is lost. Strasbourg gave me an opportunity to get back on my feet.”
Kone has become a hugely unpopular figure at Sunderland, with his decline in form coinciding with Sunderland suffered successive relegations from the Premier League and Championship.
But he blames bad decisions at the club, rather than his and his team-mates performances, for the club’s decline.
He added: “I don’t perceive it as a failure. I started well. After that, it was a lack of success, not the right choices on the part of the Sunderland executives. I had good times. I have no regrets.”