Chelsea launch charm offensive in bid to seal Stones deal
Chelsea have attempted to smooth their bid to sign John Stones by holding talks with Everton about how the two clubs can avoid any more mud-slinging over the central defender.
Everton have rejected two bids for Stones, with a third expected, and discussions are understood to have taken place between Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and his Everton counterpart Bill Kenwright regarding Chelsea's initially aggressive pursuit of the 21-year-old.
Buck's influence could be key for Chelsea, as the American enjoys a good relationship with Kenwright that has previously helped to facilitate deals between the clubs.
It remains to be seen whether Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will adopt a more coy approach over his desire to sign Stones during the transfer window.
Mourinho is due to speak to the press today, ahead of Sunday's Community Shield clash with Arsenal, and will be asked about Stones.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez expressed his dismay that Chelsea's first bid was made public, but his complaints were mocked by Mourinho, who confirmed that a second bid would be made.
Everton were also surprised and upset by comments from Chelsea's England defender Gary Cahill, who urged Stones to join him at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea this week had a second bid for Stones, of £26m, rejected, but refused to comment on the matter.
Buck and Kenwright are keen to maintain a good working relationship, with Chelsea still hoping to land the player. In recent years, Romelu Lukaku, Samuel Eto'o and Christian Atsu have moved between the clubs.
Despite Everton's insistence that Stones is not for sale, it is believed a deal worth £34m should be enough for an agreement.
The Goodison Park club are looking at a host of central defensive targets of their own, including Swansea City's Ashley Williams and Manchester United's Jonny Evans.
Both Manchester United and Manchester City have a long-standing interest in Stones, but neither club have so far tried to hijack Chelsea's bid.
Chelsea also want to sign a left-back, with Augsburg's Baba Rahman the main target. Mourinho said the club will try to obtain a work permit for new Brazilian signing Kenedy to play in England this season.
Meanwhile, Tottenham's Romanian defender Vlad Chiriches has joined Napoli for £4.5m. The 25-year-old made 43 appearances for Spurs after arriving from Steaua Bucharest for £6.8m in 2013. (© Daily Telegraph, London)