The year-long saga surrounding Everton defender John Stones appears to be finally coming to an end.
According to the BBC, Manchester City are in advanced talks with the Toffees over a potential £50million deal with an agreement expected to be reached in the coming days.
Stones, 22, was the subject of intense interest from Chelsea last summer with then-manager Jose Mourinho launching three separate bids. The most valuable was thought to have been £35m with Everton holding out for £40m.
Article continues below
The former Barnsley star continued his development under Roberto Martinez but the team suffered a lacklustre campaign in which Stones' reputation suffered. He still made it to Euro 2016 with England but did not feature as Roy Hodgson's men reached the round of 16.
Despite inspiring vociferous criticism from pundits and fans alike, the asking price for Stones has only increased in line with the new £5bn TV deal that became active this summer. And it appears Pep Guardiola is more than willing to pay big to secure the promising defender.
Article continues below
The Spanish manager talked about his need for a ball-playing centre-back in a recent press conference, hinting that he would require one of the best in the business if City were to successfully convert to his style of play.
"Normally central defenders are strong in the air and aggressive," said Guardiola on Wednesday.
"But we need to have a good build-up to create easy passes in the midfield so they can create good passes for the strikers. I believe when the ball goes from the central defender to the striker as quickly as possible, it comes as quickly as possible back.
"That is why the players in that area need quality. By 31 August we will have the right squad to play how we want."
If the price reaches £50m, it will eclipse the record for an English player, set by Raheem Sterling last summer when he made the same move to the Etihad from Liverpool. That deal was worth £49m but the winger has struggled to live up to it so far.
Sterling was unable to adapt to Manuel Pellegrini's style of play, which discourages dribbling in favour of quick passes, a grim prospect for the Guardiola era.
However, Stones is being targeted specifically for his ability to pass from the back which has invited as much criticism as it has praise.