City make 'take it or leave it' £40m Stones bid
Manchester City have made Everton a final offer of £40m for John Stones, with a warning that they will not be held to ransom for the England defender.
They are also planning to open talks with Brazil midfielder Fernandinho over a new contract and are expected to announce striker Sergio Agüero's new deal before the start of the new Premier League season in what is shaping into a busy summer for the club after Pep Guardiola's appointment as manager.
City are also optimistic of wrapping up deals for Schalke's Germany winger Leroy Sané and Palmeiras striker Gabriel Jesus before they play Arsenal in their final pre-season friendly in Gothenburg a week tomorrow, with Guardiola's summer spending likely to exceed £150m.
Everton rejected a £40m bid from City for Stones earlier this month but the Manchester club are adamant they will not meet the Merseysiders' £50m valuation for the 22-year-old, which would mean him eclipsing Raheem Sterling as the most expensive English player in history .
Any deal over the £42m that City paid Porto for France centre-half Eliaquim Mangala two years ago would make Stones the world's most expensive defender - a scenario they want to avoid.
City, who arrived back home from their pre-season tour of China yesterday, believe their offer for Stones is very fair for a player who has made less than 100 appearances for Everton and is coming off the back of a difficult season.
Wilfried Bony is thought to have been offered as a makeweight but Everton would prefer a straight cash deal.
Stones has told Everton of his desire to play for Guardiola at City and the defender's eagerness to move could ultimately prove the deciding factor.
If City get Stones, they may decide not to move for Leonardo Bonucci, even though Guardiola admires the Juventus centre-back.
Guardiola is confident he can turn Stones - who cost Everton £3m from Barnsley in 2013 - into a world-class centre-half but he supports the club's position and has already expressed bewilderment at the "crazy" prices being asked for English players.
City adopted a similar hardline stance over Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne last summer only to eventually meet respectively Liverpool and Wolfsburg's asking prices.
It remains to be seen if they hold firm with Everton, who are notoriously tough negotiators in the transfer market.
Like their pursuit of Stones, City's negotiations with Schalke over Sané have also proved protracted, with the German club demanding £42m for the 20-year-old, around £7m more than City's valuation.
Sané has also signalled his determination to move to the Etihad Stadium, though, and a compromise is finally expected to be reached over the coming days.
Gabriel Jesus (19) could cost as much as £26m but is expected to be loaned straight back to Palmeiras next season.
There will also be a glut of outgoings from City this summer. Full-backs Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov may depart, Bony is surplus to requirements and Mangala is expected to leave, probably on loan if a buyer cannot be found for him.
The future of another defender, Jason Denayer, is uncertain and Guardiola appeared to raise fresh doubts about Samir Nasri's position on Thursday by revealing that the France midfielder returned for pre-season overweight. (© Daily Telegraph, London)