There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for Chelsea in their pursuit of Everton’s John Stones.
The Mirror are reporting that the Toffees will reluctantly sell the England defender for £34m, having previously rejected offers of £20m and £26m from the Premier League champions.
Chelsea are confident that Stones would jump at the chance to move to Stamford Bridge, The Mirror adds, and that Everton have privately acknowledged £34m would be a price too good to turn down.
That would make the 21-year-old the most expensive centre-back in British football history, beating the £28m that Manchester United paid Leeds United for Rio Ferdinand in 2002, according to BBC Sport.
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At the time of Ferdinand’s move, the Red Devils were buying proven quality.
Ferdinand had helped Leeds to the Champions League semi-finals and captained them to a fifth-place Premier League finish.
He had also been to the 1998 and 2002 World Cups with England and collected 25 international caps.
Stones, who has only made 39 Premier League starts, has no such pedigree, but he is very highly regarded by Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who is quoted by ESPN as describing the youngster as “one of the most talented centre-backs in European football”, and “a special footballer”.
The four-times capped international would offer Chelsea something that they do not have at the back – pace. John Terry’s lack of speed was exposed in the build-up to Thibaut Courtois getting sent off, and thus Swansea City’s equaliser from the penalty spot, in Chelsea’s 2-2 opening-day draw yesterday.
United have also been credited with an interest in Stones, by The Mirror.
Ferdinand has encouraged the former Barnsley trainee to choose his former club over Chelsea, report BBC Sport.