The news that all Everton supporters expected to hear this summer was announced yesterday. According to various reports, Manchester City have apparently entered into discussions with the Toffees over the signing of John Stones.
The defender has been heavily linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium ever since Pep Guardiola was announced as City’s new manager, and it appears as though the former Bayern boss has decided the time is right to make his move. Everton are reportedly holding out for around £50 million for the man they signed from Barnsley for just £3 million back in January 2013, and City are not thought to be far away in what they are willing to offer.
During Stones’ three-and-a-half years at Goodison Park, he has developed into one of the world’s most promising defenders, and it is no surprise that Guardiola has made him one of his main targets. The England international fits the style that the Catalan is hoping to implement down to the ground with his composure in possession and willingness to play out from the back. City’s style is expected to place emphasis on building from the back and there are few better at doing so than Stones.
However, the 22-year-old notably made a series of mistakes towards the end of last season as he started to over-complicated things. There were times when Stones was caught in possession when really he should have looked to distribute the ball a little quicker.
The intent is there though, and in Guardiola he will find a manager equally as supportive to his approach as Martinez was, but who is much more capable of pushing him on to the next level as a top-class footballer.
Everton supporters will be hoping that the right deal can be done as quickly as possible, so that Ronald Koeman can bring in a replacement in time for the new season. They have been heavily linked with Kalidou Koulibaly for much of the summer, and the Sun are today claiming that the Toffees are looking at Sunderland’s Lamine Kone as a potential replacement for Stones.
The 27-year-old only joined the Black Cats in January but played a big part in fighting off relegation from the Premier League. Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion have also been linked with a move for Kone, so Everton would face competition if they decide to move for the Ivory Coast international.
In truth, the rumours of a move for Kone are probably somewhat underwhelming for Everton fans, who would have hoped that their new-found wealth would mean they are able to attract a better calibre of player.
However, with Chelsea now ahead in the race to sign Koulibaly, they may be required to look elsewhere for defensive reinforcements. The report claims that a £14 million bid is being lined up, but whether new Sunderland boss David Moyes is willing to sell his best defender is a different matter.
Finally, Stoke City’s Marko Arnautovic has ended speculation over a potential move to Goodison Park by signing a new four-year-contract with the Potters.
The Austrian international was Stoke’s top scorer last season with 12 goals and had been linked with a move to Everton after stalling over a contract extension earlier in the summer. However, he has now moved to quash the transfer talk by committing himself to his current club until 2020.
This will come as yet another blow to Ronald Koeman, who has failed to make his mark in the transfer market so far this summer. Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg is the club’s only new arrival so far, despite the reported £100 million transfer kitty that is burning a hole in Koeman’s pocket.
Understandably, Evertonians are becoming anxious about this, as the new season is only just over two weeks away and new arrivals are desperately needed if the team is to build on last season’s disappointing 11th-place finish.
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