As the season draws to a close the inevitable transfer rumours begin to do the rounds and it looks like Everton and England centre-back John Stones will be a target of top clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City. Last summer Stones was hotly tipped to join Chelsea in a big money move but nothing came of it and Everton dug in their heels and resisted any bid Chelsea threw at them.
This summer may well be a different story however as Chelsea again begin to circle over the highly rated player who will only turn 22 years-old in a couple of weeks. According to reports in today’s media, Chelsea are readying a £40million bid for Stones but Everton are expecting at least £50million for one of their most prized assets.
It is a transfer saga which is likely to drag on through the summer right through the European Championships where Stones is likely to feature heavily. Everton bought Stones for £3million in 2013 and has made 85 appearances for The Toffees who stand to make a substantial profit on the player.
Despite having a below-par season with Everton, Stones is still very much a transfer target for Chelsea. Manchester City would also potentially be keen on a player who is currently close by to them.
How does Stones compare to the current crop of defenders at Stamford Bridge and the City of Manchester Stadium.
Chelsea have always had a reputation as one of the best organised defensive teams in the Premier League and in Europe. However this season has been a bit of a disaster for The Blues. The sacking of Jose Mourinho and the appointment of Guus Hiddink and interim manager and derailed their season and with the arrival of new manager Antonio Conte in the summer changes will be made at the club.
Doubts remain over long-term captain John Terry’s future at the club. Terry who turns 36 years old in December was sent off at the weekend as Chelsea lost 3-2 to struggling Sunderland and time seems to be catching up with the aging former England captain. His contract expires at the end of the season and it appears unlikely that Chelsea will offer him a new deal. Despite vast experience in the Chelsea squad there have been noticeable cracks in the once water-tight defence. Gary Cahill has struggled with form and Kurt Zouma was injured against Manchester united in February.
New manager Conte will expect a solid defence as he attempts to bring the Premier League title back to Stamford Bridge after a poor campaign this year. Stones might be a target for Chelsea but the Italian may have other ideas about him and it is unclear whether Chelsea are to end to long career of Terry this summer. An experienced head like Terry could be vital for Conte to adapt to the English game.
Manchester City are a club also with huge defensive issues. They have a world class goalkeeper in Joe Hart and a tough tackling defensive midfield with the likes of Fernando and Fernandinho but it is the centre-back positions which will have incoming manager Pep Guardiola scratching his head with concern.
Captain Vincent Kompany has struggled with injury over the season and announced that he will miss Euro 2016 this summer. When Kompany plays City have leadership and organisation, however when the Belgian is missing then his back-up defenders struggle. Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi arrived for a combined transfer fee total of around £60million and both have struggled with the rigors of the Premier League. Even an experienced player like Martin Demichelis has been found out.
City going after Stones would make perfect sense for the club. Stones is originally from Barnsley and would remain in the north and have the chance to be guided under the management of Guardiola. Chelsea however almost turned his head last summer and will be confident they can fulfill their objective.