In an attempt to ease concerns of Everton fans that the 6/1 odds of John Stones joining Chelsea will come good, Toffees manager Roberto Martinez said the club would do everything in their power to keep the young Englishman.
Martinez asked for trust from the supporters during this transfer window and went on to talk up the ability of Stones, but in doing so he could have ushered the centre-back out of Goodison Park.
The 42-year-old talked up Stones as ‘the best footballing centre-half in Europe’ and this description is only set to increase interest rather than warn clubs off.
This is particularly poor timing given Chelsea, the most frequent suitors for the 21-year-old’s signature, need to dip into the market after their wretched Premier League campaign.
Furthermore, another club rumoured to be interested in Stones’ signature has just had its transfer embargo lifted and could be looking to bolster their squad.
Barcelona, who are currently priced at 25/1 to bring in the England international, Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, who were both purchased in the summer, this week after having their ban on signings lifted and could be looking to increase this number now they have more freedom.
The Spanish giants have one space remaining in their 25-man senior squad as La Liga rules state you can only have this many first-team players, and bringing in a centre-back would make sense for Luis Enrique.
Gerard Pique is a guaranteed starter, but other than him Barca could really do with adding more steel in the position.
Javier Mascherano has done well since adapting from a midfield position, but at 31 he is not a long term option for the European champions.
Similarly, Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermalen are both over 30, while 24-year-old Marc Bartra is being linked with a move away as he’s failed to establish himself at the world class standard that is demanded at the Nou Camp.
The Spain international was embarrassed by Gareth Bale as the Welshman scored a spectacular goal in the 2014 Copa del Rey final, with Real Madrid winning the trophy, and this frailty could easily see him replaced by Stones.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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