Saturday 24 March 2018

Mourinho expects big fee for Stones

Chelsea are expected to return with an improved offer for John Stones
Chelsea are expected to return with an improved offer for John Stones

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has conceded it may take a huge fee to prise Everton defender John Stones away from Goodison Park.

The Premier League champions had a bid reported to be in the region of £20million rebuffed by the Toffees last week, with manager Roberto Martinez criticising the Blues for the way they handled their approach.

Unperturbed, Chelsea are expected to up their offer for the 21-year-old - who they view as a long-term successor to John Terry - but Mourinho knows Everton will not let him go without a fight.

"That is the market now," Mourinho has told several national newspapers.

"You only pay it if you want to. If you don't want to pay it, don't pay. It's as simple as that.

"The market has no rules or limits from season to season."

After the summer departures of Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz, Everton's defensive numbers are already on the light side and Martinez has insisted he is not interested in selling any of his stars.

But Mourinho, who has risked further upsetting the Merseysiders with a "smaller club" comment, is determined to test that resolve.

"It's a good market. That's why smaller clubs, if they have interesting young English players, they use that in the right way for them," he said.

"I don't criticise them. They play the market for themselves. If the big clubs don't want to go over certain limits, they have to make a decision."

Everton failed to challenge for European football last season as they finished 11th in the Barclays Premier League table and 23 points adrift of the top four.

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill swapped Bolton for Stamford Bridge in January 2012 and he admits the lure of challenging for honours can prove persuasive when a top club come calling.

"It's hard to turn down, of course," Cahill told national newspapers.

"In terms of ambition, if you're a young player in the game, have played in the Premier League like he did a lot last year, and a big club come calling, it's very difficult to turn down because you want to achieve the most you can in the short period you have in your career as a professional footballer.

"When a top club come calling, who you know will be firing on all fronts with competitions and medals, that's ultimately what you want to be playing for."

Stones could become the most expensive English defender in history if Chelsea exceed the £30m Manchester United paid Leeds for Rio Ferdinand in 2002.

Cahill, however, believes Stones has the character to cope with the pressure.

"When you talk about being able to handle something like that, you look at their personality," Cahill said.

"From what I have seen when I have been away with him for England, he is a genuinely nice guy, a down to earth lad.

"There is nothing 'big-time' about him. So for me, I'm sure he will be able to cope with the fee if it happens."

Cahill and Stones will both have their eye on next summer's European Championships, as the pair aim to cement a starting spot at the heart of England's defence.

"Potentially as a player he can be a top player, not just for us but also for England," Cahill added.

"I think England will benefit too because he will get more experience playing in the Premier League and also the Champions League.

"I'm sure he will become a bigger and better player for that."

Press Association

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