John Stones divides the opinion amongst football fans.
Some think the 22-year-old is destined to become one of the best centre-backs in world football and has been tipped to achieve great things.
On the other hand, others feel that he is severely overrated and doesn’t deserve to be linked with European giants for an astronomical fee.
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But, according to the Daily Mail, Stones has been more that just ‘linked’ to Barcelona. In fact, they claim that the Everton defender has turned down a move to the Spanish giants after they offered him a £90,000-per-week contract - plus bonuses for each trophy won.
According to the report, Barcelona are convinced that Stones has turned down a move to Catalonia because he has his mind set on joining Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
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The La Liga champions have been following Stones since 2014 and chiefs met with his agent, Paul Martin, last week offering him a lucrative deal. The youngster’s playing style would certainly be welcomed at the Camp Nou.
His willingness to play out from the back, his two-footed ability and his pace has seen Barca identify him as an ideal replacement for Javier Mascherano, whose future is in doubt.
However, they believe that their former boss, Guardiola, has won the race for the defender and believe that he will now make a move to bring him to the Etihad.
City have also been heavily linked with Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte but Barcelona think they may attempt to sign both defenders.
Although the purchases of Laporte and Stones would set the Citizens back the best part of £70 million, it’s hardly surprising to see Guardiola keen to strengthen his defence.
Under Manuel Pellegrini, the club conceded 41 goals in the league last season - more than Leicester, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United and the same amount as Southampton.
Skipper Vincent Kompany struggled with injury for the majority of the campaign and will miss this summer’s European Championships while Nicolas Otamendi, Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis flattered to deceive.
If the club do splash out on Laporte and Stones, they will be hoping it’s not another costly mistake in that position.
They spent £28.5 million on Otamendi and £31.8 million on Mangala with the pair not coming anywhere near living up to their price-tag.
Further his career
Stones will be hoping for an opportunity to impress this summer with England at Euro 2016. He faces a fight with Gary Cahill to partner Chris Smalling at centre-back ahead of the Three Lions' opening fixture with Russia.
Stones has been at Goodison Park for three seasons since his £3 million move from Barnsley and the Toffees fought tooth and nail to keep hold of him amid interest from Chelsea last summer.
But after another disappointing campaign where they finished 11th, they are well aware Stones will want to leave as he attempts to further his career and it looks like a move to City is well and truly on the cards.
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