Lamine Kone claims he was lured to Sunderland by the challenge of trying to help keep the struggling club in the Premier League this season.
The 27-year-old opted to leave mid-table French Ligue 1 outfit Lorient for the Black Cats on a four-and-a-half year contract last month, despite the Wearsiders currently sitting in the relegation places, four points adrift of safety.
The transfer almost collapsed on several occasions, but Kone is adamant that he always wanted to move to the Stadium of Light and play in the Premier League.
On arrival, the Ivory Coast international said Sunderland “was a bigger club” than he thought, and now he is looking to meet boss Sam Allardyce’s challenge of helping them remain in the top-flight between now and the end of the season.
Kone said: “It’s vital to stay in the Premier League. My goal since I’ve come here is to win as many games as possible and keep the club in the league.
“We don’t want to be relegated to the Championship.”
Kone, who has impressed in his two appearances against Manchester United and Liverpool respectively, added on the club’s website: “Sunderland made an attractive offer for me. There were other clubs interested but none of their interest came to anything concrete.
“I found this an interesting project because of the idea of helping them in the relegation battle. I spoke to Sam Allardyce, who said he needed me in a relegation battle, so that appealed to me.”
Sunderland are 1.25 to be relegated from the Premier League this season.