Much Ado about Stones

StonesI’m sure I wasn’t the only person on January deadline day 2013 who was pulling his hair out with the prospect of once again no first team signings. As we always seem to be we desperately sort after a striker and midfielder. The Leroy Fer deal fell through, Negredo bid didn’t come to fruition but we did end up signing a young lad from Barnsley called John Stones. A complete unknown, nobody knew a thing about the boy. Fume on social media ensued, instigated by me I should add! It was dejavu once more, with the board failing to bring in any recognised first team signings. Unlike us a certain David Moyes knew what we’d acquired.

Fast forward two and a half years and John Stones has progressed from the Under 21s right through to being a first team regular and now linchpin at the heart of our defence. His rise to prominence has been swift to say the least. For a 21 year old he has the world (literally) at his feet. All Evertonian’s were hoping we would have the pleasure of seeing Stonesy develop into one of the best centre backs we’ve had at the club. Unfortunately it seems a certain Russian oligarch and his Portuguese puppet has other ideas.

It has been highly publicised that Chelsea have submitted a £20 million bid for Stones, which has been rejected out of hand.  Everton issuing Chelsea with a letter that states that their young Yorkshireman isn’t for sale at any price. Roberto Martinez echoing the clubs stance, with his post-match press conference after the Barclay Asia Trophy match against Arsenal. Since then the West London club has stoked the fire in no uncertain terms. First the so called ‘Special one’ has belittled Everton, asserting that it is the ‘small teams’ which are to blame for the inflated transfer fees in the current market. Then on Wednesday they wheeled out Gary Cahill to express his opinion on what John Stones should do and remarked that, ‘Stones would find it hard to turn down Chelsea’.

It’s not just Chelsea who have irritated Evertonian’s over the past week but also the media. The media are desperate for Stones to be sold. Reporting ‘sources’ telling them that young John wants the move. As fans know British Newspapers such as the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail have spent the past four years unsuccessfully trying to sell Everton’s best players. It’s obvious that the British press only want the best young players across the country to be a playing for top four teams, but are quick enough to complain when the England team fail on a regular basis.

Chelsea have decided to go with this aggressive courting of Stones as I believe they know this is the only summer that they can sign him. As Mourinho has already stated, next year with the increased TV revenue, players such as Sterling will be sold for £60 million. Not to mention that this time next year Everton will know that if Stones wants to leave there will be more clubs interested in signing the youngster such as United, City and Barcelona, who have all expressed interest within the last year.

I’m sure I echo the thoughts of 99% of Evertonian’s that John Stones shouldn’t be sold this summer. Most football fans are realists and can appreciate that the Barnsley born youngster will move on at some point. Nonetheless it has to be on Everton’s terms and they shouldn’t be bullied into selling to anyone. At present Stones has a four year contract which adds to his potential value. I don’t believe he is a player that would push for a transfer until the club decided to sell anyhow. Stonesy will also be aware that he has a real chance to be playing for England at the European Championships next summer and he will only be able to achieve this if he’s playing week in week out. There’s no doubt that he is perceived as a long term signing for Chelsea and they believe the lure of a few games in the Champions League will be enough to turn his head. Overlooking that Terry and Cahill would be Mourinho’s first choice centre back pairing, so John would have to sit on the bench most weeks and in turn lose out on starting regularly for England.

For whatever reason there isn’t much money available for transfers at Goodison this summer. So the feeling amongst supporters is that a serious offer may well be accepted by the club. In the past 10 years the club’s hand has been forced in selling some of its top players; Rooney, Lescott and Fellaini all being key examples. The club received excellent fees from the Lescott and Fellaini transfers and have shown they are no easy negotiators when it comes to selling players. Chelsea be warned!

If for example Everton do decide to cash in Stones this summer, then every player’s value that they are or were interested in will go up £5-£6million. With three weeks until the start of the season if the club haven’t been able to attract their main targets then, they have likely already been sold.
Currently Stones is one of only two recognised senior central defenders at the club. After releasing both Antolin Alcaraz and Sylvain Distin Everton’s priority has been to bring in a third centre defender. If they do cash in on Stones then they will need two. With three weeks until the start of the season, it is something I can’t see happening.

The club need to block Chelsea’s number between now and September 1st including sending all their emails to the junk folder! Whether John Stones is sold this summer or next, it will be for a record transfer fee for the club, nothing less. Chelsea may have all the money in the world, one thing they can’t buy though is class, and that includes the Barnsley Beckenbauer!


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