Youngster John Stones has joined Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman in signing a long term contract extension with Everton. Along with the signing of Romelu Lukaku, this ensures that four key young players in the squad have committed their futures to the Blues.
There was a lot of talk leading up to the World Cup regarding the future of Stones. After a sparkling season where he broke through the ranks and caught the eye of scouts and fans alike, rumors swirled that Chelsea and other deep-pocketed Premier League clubs might swoop in for the lad with a big money offer. While some of that scuttlebutt died down after he narrowly missed out on a spot in England's squad for the World Cup, there was still the expectation that his future with Everton would be questioned.
Stones was signed from Barnsley by David Moyes for £3 million, a move that was criticised at the time for being wasteful. However, the development of the England U-18 international has shown that the Glaswegian's shrewd eye for cut-price defenders needs to be respected, lest we all forget that Coleman came over for only £60,000. His original five and a half year contract ran through till the end of the 2017-18 season.
The new contract, which will now run to the end of the 2019 season, will no doubt give the 20-year old a big pay raise after his 26 appearances in Everton colors last season brought him into the national limelight.
Stones said: "I am over the moon. It’s just been such a great last season and to get pen to paper on a new deal is a dream come true."
"The last 12 months have been so enjoyable thanks to the faith that the manager has shown in me and all the players. What we achieved was unbelievable. It was a very memorable season and hopefully there’s more to come."
Kudos must go to Roberto Martinez as he has been busy in the shadows locking up Everton's future stars to long-term contracts that at the very least protect Everton's interests for the next couple of years, and should any of the players turn out to be the next Gareth Bale, this will give the Toffees more leverage in any transfer negotiations.
Martinez expressed his satisfaction at the news "It is an important signing for the Club and a really good reward for a young footballer with a fantastic future."
"He had an excellent season in 2013/14 and it’s really good news all round. It is very important that we continue to let our youngsters continue to develop into bigger roles."
"John Stones and Everton fit together very well. He is desperate to fill his potential, which is huge."
PHOTO: John Stones & Roberto Martinez shake hands after it is announced the defender has signed a new five-year deal. pic.twitter.com/vnDwzeoQJE— Everton (@Everton) August 7, 2014
Here's some more excerpts from the press conference -
Stones: "It’s a big dream come true signing this contract at such an amazing club."
"The main thing is that I have got to play well for Everton and that is my big goal."
"I’m learning off Jagielka, Distin and Alcaraz every day. I’m getting better, stronger and wiser."
"We want to better ourselves this season. We are aiming for the top four."
Let's hear your comments about what you think of the lad, and also what you think of the 'Martinez Project'.