Chelsea's chase of John Stones has taken another blow after Everton rejected a formal transfer request from the defender.
The Stamford Bridge outfit have been long term admirers of the central defender and have previously had three bids turned down by the Merseyside club.
Reports suggested Chelsea were confident of securing a £40 million deal for the 21-year-old after he made it clear he wanted to leave, but the latest development suggests it is unlikely the defender will move to West London before the transfer window closes.
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A statement from chairman Bill Kenwright on Everton's official website said: "Everton Football Club has rejected a transfer request from John Stones.
Since the start of the transfer window, we have resolutely turned down offers from another Premier League football club for our player. John is not for sale and he will remain a highly valued member of our first team squad."
John Stones was subject to abuse from sections of the Everton crowd during their 5-3 win over Barnsley last night, but also received a standing ovation from the majority of travelling fans.
Chelsea have been chasing the defender all summer and Roberto Martinez has often voiced his displeasure at the way the Blues have gone about their chase this summer.
It appeared their persistence had turned Stones' head and he would soon link up with compatriots John Terry and Gary Cahill.
Chelsea are yet to lodge their fourth bid and if it was in the region of £40m it may be enough to convince Everton to part with their prized asset.
But with time running out the Toffees may opt to reject the money and keep Stones to save the hassle of finding a replacement.