Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has dropped a huge hint that he will break the Premier League transfer record for a defender by paying upwards of £33million.
The bidding for the Everton star is believed to be set to go to £34m, which would surpass the fees paid for the likes of Luke Shaw (£27m), Eliaquim Mangala (31.9m) and Rio Ferdinand (£30m), making Stones the most expensive defender in English history.
Chelsea are known to be admirers of the youngster, with Mourinho seemingly seeing him as the ideal replacement for John Terry once the Blues legend finally steps away from his role as lynchpin in the club’s back-line, and having already seen an offer of £20m rejected.
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Issues with the move
However, the Special One faces two obstacles in his attempts to sign Stones, with the first significantly bigger than the latter.
Roberto Martinez wants to keep the centre-back at all costs, meaning Mourinho might well be held to ransom, whilst Stones himself wants game-time ahead of Euro 2016.
The latter is a factor that can be worked with, with Mourinho needing only to offer some assurances on the opportunities the player could get at Stamford Bridge.
The former though looks tricky to navigate, particularly as Stones has no lowly release clause embedded in his contract.
Mourinho on Stones
No, it looks like being a good old fashioned too and fro between Chelsea and their Premier League counterparts for the rest of the summer transfer window, but Mourinho has admitted that paying a record fee would be just part of the business.
“That is the market," Mourinho said, as per the Daily Mirror.
"You only pay it if you want. If you don’t want to pay it, don’t pay. It’s as simple as that.
"The market has no rules or limits from season to season.
“It’s a good market.
“That is why smaller clubs, if they have interesting young English players, use that in the right way for them.
"I don’t criticise them. They play the market for themselves.
"If the big clubs don’t want to go over certain limits, they have to make a decision. And that is maybe why none of the top clubs are full of young English players. But that is the market.”
There’s no doubting Stones’ potential, but as a 20-year-old defender could the Blues really justify spending such a sum? Raheem Sterling may have cost Manchester City £49m but his valuation is easily justifiable if he scores and assists plenty next year.
On top of that Sterling is further down the line with regards to his development than Stones is, perhaps highlighting that Mourinho might be better served waiting to sign the 20-year-old in the future rather than paying over the odds now.
Chelsea fans, what do you think? Is Stones worth £34m? Is he John Terry’s ideal successor? Let us know in the comments box below.