By Dave Smith
THIS is one of those summer transfer rumours which just won’t go away, but Everton boss Roberto Martinez remains adamant that John Stones is not for sale…at any price.
The Spaniard believes he is building something special, and long-standing at Goodison, and is not prepared to have his and the club’s ambitions undermined.
Everton have already rejected a series of Chelsea bids for Stones – along with a transfer request from the player himself – but their resolve is likely to be tested still further.
Chelsea have tried to tempt the Toffees with offers ranging from £20million to £30million, and the word on the street is that Jose and Roman will stretch to £40m.
That fee for such a young player would surely be hard to turn down. Martinez though is standing firm, and is confident Stones will be wearing the blue of Everton not Chelsea after September 1.
The Everton manager was pleased with his young defender’s performance and professionalism in last night’s exciting Capital One Cup win against Stones’ former club Barnsley.
One Everton fan wasn’t, however, and hurled abuse at the young centre back as he headed for the tunnel at half time; booming out a cry of ‘f****** rat’ which Stones could not fail to hear. The majority of Everton fans though did give him a good reception – as did the Barnsley supporters.
Meanwile, Martinez is still trying to convince Stones his future, in the short-term at least, lies in the blue half of Merseyside. But, as with Paul Pogba, Chelsea are not ready to give up the ghost just yet.
Martinez is prepared to fight them all the way, however, and so far has the backing of owner Bill Kenwright and the board to resist all offers for a young player tipped to become a future England captain.
“Sometimes, money can’t buy everything and this is going to be a very strong statement at Everton. This is not a moment when we can use any money to get us stronger,” the Spaniard told the BBC website.
John, for a young man under massive pressure, was terrific,” added Martinez about a player who is under contract for four years having signed an extension to his deal in 2014.
“We have a chairman who will do the right thing for the club and for the team and, as a true Evertonian, we are clear he will not be easily influenced in taking the money and accepting things which will clearly make our team weaker,” he said.
“The situation with John is very clear. We care about him, we will protect him and make sure we give him everything we can to allow him to enjoy his football.”
Will he get that same level of love and care at the Bridge? Possibly. But he certainly won’t get the same amount of game time.