Everton have announced the signing of Ashley Williams and are going after Sunderland's Kone, but who else could they sign if the deal falls through?
Lamine Kone scores for Sunderland against the Toffees
It is understood that Sunderland have accepted a bid of £18 million from Everton for Lamine Kone, according to Sky Sports. The Ivorian defender has been on Wearside to hold negotiations with the club, and a deal is on the way to being completed.
However, the players' agent has recently said that Kone was waiting to hear from his current club Sunderland, to see what new contract they could offer him. If a deal does fall through, Everton boss Ronald Koeman will need to look elsewhere for alternatives, having clearly identified centre-back as a problem area for the team after the loss of John Stones to Manchester City. Here are five players that Koeman could consider.
1. Scott Dann
Crystal Palace's Scott Dann
If Everton are looking to find centre-backs from within the Premier League, then why not look to Palace's 29-year-old centre-back Scott Dann? Dann has performed consistently well for the Eagles over the past few seasons, forming a formidable partnership with Damien Delaney.
Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew would not want to lose Dann, but in fact a deal for Dann would likely be nowhere near as expensive as the reported price for Kone. Dependable, and like new Everton signing Ashley Williams plays with total commitment for whichever team he is part of. He is English, has a good knowledge of the league, and would be a solid if unremarkable acquisition for Everton.
2. Omer Toprak
This deal would be a far more difficult one to pull off than Dann's, as Sky Sports report that Bayer Leverkusen general manager Jonas Boldt has said when interviewed that Toprak will not be leaving this summer, with Dortmund apparently interested in the player.
That said, regular football in the Premier League could be something that interests Toprak, with Everton seemingly at the beginning of revolutionary period at the club under new owners. Toprak has been one of the most consistent performing defenders in the Bundesliga for a number of seasons now, and is comfortable in possession of the ball, a vital attribute for the Premier League. It would take a bid upwards of £25 million - but Everton have just sold John Stones for almost £50 million, so the club clearly has funds to re-invest.
3. Joël Veltman
Veltman in action for the Netherlands
Ajax and Holland centre-back Joël Veltman has impressed in the Eredivisie since he broke into the Ajax side. The player has not been as coveted as someone like Toprak this summer, but for that reason Everton might be able to pull off a deal that represents better value for money.
Veltman is a tall and versatile centre-back that possesses the pace required to cope with the English top flight, and at 24 has a few years on a player like Dann, giving him time to learn alongside a centre-back like Williams and improve. He could be a stalwart in the Toffees side for years to come.
4. Niklas Süle
If Everton were looking for a young prospect to partner Williams, then they should consider 20-year-old Süle from Hoffenheim. A man tipped to have a bright future in the game, Süle is expected to move on from Hoffenheim in the near future to a bigger club, and Everton could steal on march on other clubs around Europe with an early bid.
Süle has represented Germany from Under-16 level right through to the Under-21's, but is yet to make his full international debut. A name for the future, Everton might be the right kind of club to develop a player like Süle into a world class centre-back.
5. Phil Jones
Manchester United's Phil Jones playing against PSG
This suggestion might seem a little strange to some, as Jones has made some costly errors in a United shirt in the last few seasons. He appears to be a player that is a little low on confidence, but there is no denying that for a 24-year-old Jones has already accumulated a vast amount of Premier League and European experience.
Through playing regular first-team football at Everton, Jones might regain the confidence that made him look such an assured and talented defender in his early days at Old Trafford. United supposedly want to sell the player, and the Red Devils and Everton have done plenty of business together in recent times. Jones might be a less popular choice but still could turn into an outstanding centre-back.
Everton seem to have found the defender that they want to bring in in the shape of Kone, but if they cannot complete that transfer then there are other options out there to pursue. It's important that the Toffees choose the right man to partner Williams at centre-back, and form the foundation that Everton build their new-look team upon.