Football

Stones is in high demand..

Roberto Martinez labels John Stones the 'best footballing centre-back' in Europe

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Everton manager Roberto Martinez has claimed John Stones is up there with the best centre-backs in Europe in terms of his technical ability and ball distribution.

The 42-year-old underlined the Toffees' eagerness to hang on to the classy defender and have no intention of selling him solely for the purpose of financial gain.

"I've been managing him now for three seasons and I think John Stones is, without a doubt, the best footballing centre-half I've seen in European football," the Spaniard told talkSPORT.

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"Any bid that comes in which is not in the benefit of the team [will not be accepted]… We will never be making decisions purely for financial reasons.

"That doesn't mean that we'll never sell players, but that if we do sell a player, it will be in the benefit of the team and being able to move it forward."

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Stones has forged a deserved reputation as one of the most talented England players of his generation while locking down a starting role in the heart of Everton's back four.

The 21-year-old, who made his Premier League debut in August 2013, has been the subject of transfer interest from a number of top clubs in recent times.

Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona have all been linked with moves for the Everton prodigy, though Martinez has so far managed to keep hold of his star.

Manchester City v Everton - Capital One Cup Semi Final: Second Leg

The Blues reportedly had a £38 million bid for Stones turned down last summer in their pursuit of a long-term replacement for skipper John Terry.

The same report also suggests the England international will take centre stage once again this summer as his long line of suitors contemplate matching the Toffees’ £50 million asking price.

Is Stones worth £50 million?

For Chelsea, United and City, capturing Stones would not only see one of the best ball-playing defenders in the country join their ranks, but add another Englishman towards fulfilling the Premier League's homegrown players quota.

Everton v Manchester City - Capital One Cup Semi Final: First Leg

As a result, Everton’s domestic rivals might even have to raise their offer above his already eye-watering price tag.

La Liga's Barca and Real would face no such obstacle in the chase for Stones. However, the young man himself might be unsettled by the prospect of moving to a foreign league where he would be expected to fill the boots of Gerard Pique or Sergio Ramos.

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Topics:
Premier League
Everton
Football
Chelsea

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