Chelsea will return with a fourth offer for John Stones, who has handed in a transfer request at Everton in a bid to force a move to the capital.
The 21-year-old was a David Moyes signing for the Toffees, who paid Barnsley a bargain £3million to take him in January 2013. He has gone on to establish himself as a key member of Roberto Martinez’s back four and one of the most promising central defenders in Europe, whilst his efforts have also earned him international recognition with four caps for England.
Although Stones still has three years left on his contract at Goodison Park, he has asked to leave the club following interest from Chelsea. The champions see the player as the ideal replacement for John Terry, who has endured a difficult start to the new season despite a hugely impressive campaign last time round when he was an ever-present for Jose Mourinho’s side.
The former England captain will be 35 in December, and the Londoners have tried to lure Stones to the capital with bids of £20million and £26million. Despite Everton insisting that the former Oakwell youngster is not for sale, it is believed Mourinho is increasingly confident that the transfer request will change their thinking as he prepares a bid worth around £40million.
There has been some suggestions that Stones would be better off staying at least one more season on Merseyside where he would be sure of regular first team action, but he would likely fancy his chances of earning a start for Chelsea due to their disappointing start which has seen them concede seven goals in three matches which is threatening to split the Terry and Gary Cahill pairing.
Stones has also played in a right fullback position in the past, which is another area the Blues have looked vulnerable in with the usually-reliable Branislav Ivanovic looking shaky. This would be another plus point as Mourinho turns the screw on Martinez’s club, who must now decide to either cash in or retain the services of a player who has now made his intentions clear.
Meanwhile, Chelsea winger Juan Cuadrado has ended his miserable an brief spell in England. The Colombian joined the Londoners in January from Fiorentina, but he failed to make an impression and has now returned to Italy where Juventus have taken him on loan. And Marko Marin has moved to the Turkish club, Trabzonspor, who have the option to make the deal permanent.