According to reports from Mirror Football yesterday evening, Everton have opened contract talks with John Stones in the hope of blocking a fresh Chelsea approach for the England centre-back in January.
Chelsea saw three bids rejected for the 21 year-old during the summer, with their last and most lucrative believed to be worth around £30million, and reports earlier this month revealed the Premier League champions will revive their interest in the coming transfer window.
It follows a horrendous start to the west London outfit’s title defence; they’re already ten points behind pace-setters Manchester City and have conceded 17 goals in nine games.
Stones, meanwhile, has been enjoying a good run of form this term, averaging 2.3 tackles, 2.3 interceptions, 2.3 successful aerial duels and one block per match whilst claiming four clean sheets in seven league outings for the Toffees.
Keen to hold onto the 6 foot 2 defender, capable of playing at right-back or centre-half, until at least next summer, Mirror Football claim the Goodison outfit have now opened talks over a new deal.
Manager Roberto Martinez has insisted there is no deadline for negotiations or pressure on Stones to sign new terms, but the former Barnsley youngster’s preference to have an ‘escape clause‘ inserted into his contract could prove to be a significant stumbling block.
European champions Barcelona are also believed to be interested in signing the six-cap international.