Jose Mourinho's attempts to bolster his title-winning Chelsea squad appears to be gathering speed with reports suggesting Everton have swatted the Portuguese manager's bid for defender John Stones away.
Sky Sports provided the details:
However, Craig Hope of the Daily Mail believes a higher offer is incoming:
Stones is a fine young defender who has adapted well to the Premier League. The 21-year-old made the move from Barnsley in 2013 and has since averaged 22 performances across two top-flight seasons with the club, per Soccerway.
He offers quality on the ball and an excellent reading of the game. Stones' physical abilities are still developing, but he has the intelligence and confidence to develop into one of England's best. Mourinho is likely searching for alternative options to the ageing (yet pivotal) John Terry and Gary Cahill, who suffered bouts of inconsistency last season.
Youngster Kurt Zouma assumed great responsibility toward the latter end of the campaign for Mourinho, who deployed him both as a centre-back and in defensive midfield. The 20-year-old is a physical behemoth and is used to taking Mourinho's tactical moves in his stride, as highlighted during his combative midfield performance in the Capital One Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez has already allowed centre-backs Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz leave this summer, so Stones' importance has increased. The Spanish boss appeared intent on adding to his centre-back numbers with the acquisition of Manchester United's Jonny Evans, reported Jamie Jackson of the Guardian.
However, Martinez has denied a deal for the Northern Irishman is close, per Everton's official website: "It's not true. There's nothing. I always said I'm not going to be commenting publicly on any of the names that have been shared around but I can tell you clearly that there is nothing true in that story."
Stones' potential cost may increase with this in mind. "He's the type of player that, were he Portuguese and German, we'd be saying, why can't be produce players like that?" said England under-21 boss Gareth Southgate, per Nicholas Veevers the FA's official website.
Mourinho only needs to make minimal alterations to press on with the task of challenging for the Champions League.
David Woods of the Daily Star suggested the boss is ready to whisk Anderlecht striker Aleksandar Mitrovic away from the clutches of Newcastle United, despite having already signed Monaco striker Radamel Falcao on loan. Woods noted Loic Remy could be sold if Mitrovic—who netted 20 goals in the Belgian top flight last season—makes his way to west London.
Barcelona's Pedro is also outlined as a potential target by Woods. B/R UK's Andy Brassell recently discussed the likelihood of those speculated making a move to Stamford Bridge:
Stones would be an excellent signing for the Blues if they can tie him to a long-term contract. His potential is clear, and even at this early stage of his career, he shows more composure on the ball than most other English centre-backs. He could develop alongside Mourinho and Terry, two people who have won it all in club football.
Everton will likely only entertain a huge offer, however, particularly while their centre-back options remain limited for the upcoming season.