Following a summer rife with reports linking Everton defender John Stones with a move to Chelsea, it seems interest in the England international is growing.
Over the past week, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has emerged the latest admirer of the 21-year-old amidst his search to strengthen his side.
And after the Red Devils crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of Wolfsburg on Tuesday night, reports as per the Independent have suggested Van Gaal is plotting a staggering £50 million bid to lure Stones to Old Trafford next summer.
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Prior to their European exit midweek, United managed to keep seven clean sheets in ten matches across all competitions. Amidst their struggles in front of goal, defending appeared to be their overwhelming strength, though recent injuries appear likely to hamper that.
Matteo Darmian and Chris Smalling both picked up injuries against the Bundesliga outfit, whilst Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are also on the treatment table.
And it would appear United recognise their need for greater talent amongst their ranks. Despite spending in excess of £300 million since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013, the Red Devils appear short of what is required to challenge for the English crown.
After proving his Premier League quality, there is little doubt Stones can be the man to further sure up United's defence, especially when partnered with countryman Smalling.
Current club Everton sit ninth in the Premier League with a Capital One Cup semi-final imminent, though Stones will be aware he's capable of, and indeed able to acquire, Champions League football.
What the youngster can additionally offer to the Red Devils, aside from his defensive ability and composure, is versatility. Stones is capable of playing anywhere across the back line, which could prove fruitful given United's inclination to field defenders out of position when necessary.
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