The Ivory Coast international is a target for several European clubs but could leave Lille this summer and favors a return to the Premier League.
The Black Cats are eager to conclude a number of deals before the transfer window closes after having already missed out on Eduardo Vargas, who joined QPR on loan from Napoli.
Sunderland remains interested in Liverpool striker Fabio Borini, who spent last season on loan at the Stadium of Light, although any move for the Italian is likely to be temporary rather than a permanent deal.
Other targets include Danny Welbeck, whose future at Manchester United looks uncertain, and Corinthians striker Paolo Guerrero.
One player who is set to leave the Stadium of Light this summer is Modibo Diakite. Goal understands the defender is in talks to terminate his contract and complete a move to Fiorentina, where he spent last season on loan.