There’s a feel-good factor around Everton at the moment. They’ve just booked their spot in the last four of a domestic cup for the first time since 2011/12, are positioning themselves for a top-six Premier League finish and have four young players in supreme form.
Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, John Stones and Gerard Deulofeu are all earning numerous plaudits for their performances this term and are likely to catch the eye of some bigger clubs as a result.
The most in-demand of that quartet is Stones, who was the subject of lofty bids from Chelsea over the summer and is again attracting interest from the Premier League’s elite, as well as in Europe.
After BBC pundit Trevor Sinclair implored Manchester City to pursue the ball-playing centre half, they could easily become the latest suitors for Stones’ signature on these shores, joining Barcelona in the hunt.
However, Roberto Martinez isn’t one to step aside for the big clubs when it comes to his young players and the Spaniard was firm in his belief that Stones should remain at Goodison Park when Chelsea were sniffing around last summer.
Eventually though, something has to give. If Everton start qualifying for European competition on a regular basis or go on a run of cup wins, then keeping hold of Stones and the club’s other prized possessions will be a whole lot easier.
If that doesn’t happen, then these ambitious young stars will want to make the step up to the highest level and experience title challenges and the Champions League.
Additionally, how long can Everton turn down over £30m for a player? It makes little business sense to reject so much money if strides aren’t being made on the pitch because, ultimately, that money could play a big part in propelling the club forward.
Rumours about Stones’ future aren’t going to quieten while he’s playing well, and he’s likely to be joined in the gossip pages by any number of his three young teammates.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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