David Moyes has challenged Lamine Kone to continue to improve – after the defender finally signed a new five-year-deal at Sunderland.
The Ivory Coast international has signed an improved and extended contract which will see him remain on Wearside until 2021.
It brings to a close a summer-long saga, which involved Everton lodging an £18million bid and a statement being put out in Kone’s name claiming he wanted a move.
Sunderland – led by manager Moyes’ strong stance – stood firm and deadline day passed with Kone remaining at the club.
A fresh round of contract talks took place at the Academy of Light on Tuesday, with Kone signing a new deal to commit to the Black Cats.
A delighted Moyes has now challenged Kone – who joined Sunderland in January for £5million from Lorient – to build on his positive start in the Premier League.
“Lamine is an important player for this club and I made that clear to him from the outset,” said Moyes.
“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 signed a four-and-a-half year deal in January but his contract has now been extended by a year.
The future of the 27-year-old, who was a key player in last season’s survival, had been up in the air after Everton’s £18million bid.
That led to a statement being put out in Kone’s name claiming he wanted a move after Sunderland had failed to offer him a promised new deal – a claim rejected by the club.
Sunderland confirmed they would be offering him a new deal once the window had closed but decided to offer Kone a new contract earlier.
Kone then complained of a bad back less than 24 hours after turning down the offer, which saw him miss the defeat to Middlesbrough and EFL Cup win over Shrewsbury Town.
He returned to the first team for the 1-1 draw with Southampton and deadline day passed without any further bids from Everton, who beat Sunderland 3-0 on Monday night.
Moyes has previously said the saga has been a difficult period for everyone involved.
“I understand Lamine’s position, but I also understand the position of the club,” Moyes said earlier this month.