[[content.stanza]]Kaboul and Kone, the rocks on which last season's survival was built are both the subjects of fresh transfer rumours and they are not going away. Meanwhile, Liam Bridcutt is finally on his way.
Kone and Kaboul
The Lamine Kone saga has occupied Sunderland minds for the past ten days and Younes Kaboul has been the subject of some transfer gossip which, has so far, gone relatively under the radar.
Indeed it was France Football who claimed on Friday that Watford were looking at Kaboul to solve their need for a central defender. This wasn't really picked up as a bonafide link by anyone else and by Saturday had been largely forgotten as Kaboul and Kone lined up in Sunderland's opening fixture.
Certainly the game against Manchester City highlighted just how crucial the centre back pairing of Kone and Kaboul is to Sunderland's defensive resolution. If City enjoyed a huge share of possession, they were restricted to few clear cut opportunities due to Sunderland's central rocks.
It's not the first time Kaboul has been linked with a move to Watford. He was strongly rumoured to be about to join the Hornets last summer, before eventually opting to hook up with Sunderland. That may well be reason enough to approach this rumour with caution; football gossip-mongers, in the main, tend to be unimaginative authors and stick to tried and tested methods of encouraging potential readers to click on their tittle-tattle.
But, with Watford looking to consolidate on a first relatively comfortable season of survival, new manager Walter Mazzarri will be looking to continue a strategy based on a settled squad littered with a few experienced heads. Kaboul would fit that profile.
The potential dismantling of the Kone-Kaboul twin axis is of concern of course. With injuries forcing a makeshift central midfield on Sunderland's new manager David Moyes, strength in the middle, at the back, was crucial to enabling his side to compete at least on a physical level with Manchester City.
Kaboul in particular produced another commanding performance at the heart of Sunderland's defence, ably assisted by his partner Lamine Kone. The giant Frenchman was a colossus in clearing what came his way and showed his deftness of foot once again with a couple of marauding runs forward.
A word on the Kone saga then; this certainly looks likely to rumble on for a while longer yet. The Express led the way over the weekend in suggesting that Everton's move for Valencia defender Aymen Abdennour meant the end of Ronald Koeman's pursuit of Sunderland's Ivorian defender.
However, other reports claim the deal is still very much 'on' and that the only delay is in Sunderland identifying a suitable replacement. Daily Mail journalist Ell Bretland was one such observer who is adamant the deal is done and is simply awaiting Sunderland bringing in a new man. If, as expected, Everton are likely to play a 3 - man defence regularly under Koeman, there is every possibility the Dutch coach will be continuing to look to add extra central defensive bodies to his back line and the signing of one, such as Abdennour, would not detract from the need for another Body.
All in all, the tale is a sorry one with no apparent benefit to any party concerned. If Kone stays, those fans who warmed to his displays, connection with the crowd and social media presence will remain wary of his commitment. Even his agent, Mark MacKay, normally the only one who would benefit from such a protracted, public transfer bubbling, has emerged looking pretty stupid from the whole affair with that bizarre photograph in a Merseyside hotel and his client's manager claiming his client had no knowledge of the statement supposedly released in his client's name.
Perhaps David Moyes emerges with his reputation in tact; having told the player to wait until September for his promised new contract and handed him a fine for apparently traveling to Merseyside to flirt with Everton in public. But, in this protracted farce, filled with mind games, waffle, bluff and illusion, anything is possible.
Liam Bridcutt Undergoing Medical
Meanwhile, in West Yorkshire, surplus-to-requirements midfielder Liam Bridcutt looks set to leave Sunderland within the coming hours.
The Yorkshire Evening Post have reported that, having reached an agreement with Sunderland over the remaining year of his contract, the 27 year old will finally join Gary Monk at Elland Road permanently, earning a reported £26,000 a week.
The Post have claimed Bridcutt will have a medical tonight in Leeds. A hit in Yorkshire, few on Wearside will be unduly bothered by his exit, despite Sunderland's current lack of options in the middle of the park. Bridcutt has not featured in a red and white shirt since the end of the 2014 - 15 season.