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Key defender Lamine Kone commits to Sunderland

London (AFP) – Highly rated Ivory Coast international defender Lamine Kone gave struggling Premier League side Sunderland a welcome boost on Wednesday by signing a new five-year contract.

The 27-year-old — who only joined the club in January for £6 million (7m euros, $7.9m) — agreed to the deal just weeks after he pushed for a £14 million move to rivals Everton on transfer deadline day.

His hopes were dashed when Sunderland manager David Moyes stepped in to prevent it going ahead because he didn’t have a ready-made replacement for him.

Wednesday’s new deal will tie Kone to the club till 2021 and Moyes said he is crucial to the team — the centre-back had already made himself a hero for the fans by scoring a double in May’s 3-0 defeat of Everton which assured the Black Cats retained their Premier League status.

“Lamine is an important player for this club and I made that clear to him from the outset,” Moyes told the club’s official website.

“He has only been playing in the Premier League since January, but in that time we have already seen what he is capable of.

“The challenge for Lamine now is to build on what has been a very positive introduction to English football and to continue to improve and grow as a player.”

Kone, who represented the country of his birth France up to Under-20 level before committing to the Ivory Coast, has been one of just a few players to shine for Sunderland in the Premier League this season with the club still to win after four matches.

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