Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side is taking a while to come together.
Since arriving after leading Italy to the quarter finals at Euro 2016, Conte has only been able to add N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi to his squad – and he’s had to pay over £60 million to do that.
The 47-year-old wants to improve his defensive options though, and has been chasing Napoli’s giant centre back, Kalidou Koulibaly.
Senegal international Koulibaly wants to leave Serie A, but his club won’t let him go for less than £42 million, despite the defender making it clear he won’t sign a new contract.
Chelsea’s £38 million bid hasn’t been successful, so the Blues have identified Sunderland defender Lamine Kone as an alternative.
Kone impressed since signing for Sunderland from Lorient last year, and scored two goals from centre back as Sunderland narrowly avoided relegation.
The Ivorian is rated at £18 million, and the Mackems are willing to sell, as David Moyes prepares his new side for the Premier League opener this weekend.
Everton are also interested, and Sunderland may be more likely to do business with the Toffees, as they have eyes on Phil Jagielka as a replacement – once again reuniting the Moyes-Jagielka link from the old Everton days.
Sunderland have also agreed a fee with Manchester United for defensive pair Paddy McNair and Donald Love, so Kone’s departure looks likely.
In fact, it’s gone down that badly that fans have launched a petition online to keep Kone at the club, urging the club to ‘come out and openly confirm this to the fans’ if the rumour that Everton have agreed a fee with Sunderland is true.
The petition has over 2,000 signatures since going live, and has to go down as one of the worst efforts at communicating with a club ever seen.
Imagine if every club confirmed if every rumour was true or not – Southampton’s press officer would go through a laptop every six months as Liverpool poach players every summer.
Whatever the result, there’s set to be some defensive reshuffling in the Premier League soon, and Conte’s Chelsea frustrations could continue.