This Sunderland man could be the ideal replacement for Southampton's Van Dijk, should he leave

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino in action with Sunderland's Lamine Kone

Southampton's Virgil van Dijk has been linked with a move away from the club, and Sunderland's Lamine Kone could be his ideal replacement, should he leave.

Reports have emerged over this past week linking Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk with a move away from St Mary's, with both Everton and Liverpool rumoured to be considering £40 million bids for the Dutchman (the Mirror).

While Saints fans will be desperate not to lose one of their prized assets, they will be all too familiar with the recurring theme of selling on their star players for vast profits, and it would be no suprise if the 25-year-old former Celtic man moved to a top four club in either January or the summer.

Southampton's Virgil van Dijk reactsSouthampton's Virgil van Dijk 

Southampton have dealt with the loss of so many of their stars down the years by planning well in advance for the prospect of bigger clubs coming in for their players.

They identify transfer targets early, and this time will be no different, whether Van Dijk stays or leaves.

An ideal replacement, or even partner, for the Dutchman would be Sunderland's Lamine Kone, who has been a revelation for the Black Cats since he made his £6 million move to the Stadium of Light from Lorient in January of this year.

Sunderland's Papy Djilobodji and Lamine Kone celebrate at full timeSunderland's Papy Djilobodji and Lamine Kone celebrate 

While the Ivory Coast international is not as tall as Van Dijk, he is equally as imposing in a physical sense, and is arguably quicker along the ground than the Saints man.

Kone is a natural leader, and always gives 100 per cent for the cause, irrelevant of the situation that his side are in.

Obviously it would take a fairly substantial offer to tempt Sunderland into selling, but if van Dijk were to be sold, Southampton would be heavily armed with funds that could be used to bring the Ivorian to the south coast.

Sunderland's Lamine Kone celebrates with team mates after scoring their first goalSunderland's Lamine Kone celebrates 

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