Report: West Ham ready to trigger Sunderland star Lamine Kone's £18m release clause

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic

West Ham United have been linked with the Sunderland defender for a while, but their interest now appears to have moved to the next level.

A report in The Sun has suggested that West Ham United are ready to trigger Lamine Kone's release clause during the January window in a bid to lure the Sunderland defender to the London Stadium.

The Mirror reported last month that the Hammers were keen to land the 27-year-old, and were prepared to pay £15m to make a move happen.

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

However, perhaps due to the fact that they have conceded 12 goals in the four games they have played in all competitions since that report came out, or perhaps sensing that other teams could also come in for the Ivory Coast international, the Hammers now seem keen to avoid a bidding war.

The Sun reports that West Ham are now considering offering £18m for the former Lorient man, which would trigger his buyout clause and seemingly leave the path clear for Kone to discuss a switch to Slaven Bilic's side.

News of an £18m bid is perhaps likely to divide Irons supporters. Kone, at times, has been impressive for the Black Cats and was one of the most influential players during their fight for Premier League survival last season. 

West Ham United manager Slaven BilicWest Ham United manager Slaven Bilic

However, it must be noted that David Moyes' men have still kept just one clean sheet this term so it would arguably be a gamble to spend such a large sum of money on a player who may not necessarily be the answer to West Ham's defensive problems.

But with the Hammers currently looking destined for a relegation battle themselves, Bilic may feel that £18m is a price worth paying if he looks at Kone as a player he can get the best out of on a regular basis. 

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