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Everton face battle for John Stones in wake of record Chelsea bid

Chelsea are poised to up their offer for the England man as Everton battle to resist Roman's roubles

Stanley Chou/Getty Images

After testing the water with a rather insulting £20million bid for John Stones on Friday, Chelsea are expected to up their offer as they seek a long-term replacement for John Terry.

Reports claim Everton are "holding out" for an bid in excess of £31million for the 21-year-old, a fee that would make him the most expensive British defender ever.

Except that Everton are not "holding out" for anything, they are determined to keep hold of Stones, who only two days ago insisted he was happy at the club and was looking forward to the future.

That hasn't stopped the predicable outbreak of panic and outrage on social media, with Evertonians fearing Stones is simply the latest big-name player to leave.

That outcome is perhaps not the inevitability it might have been a few years ago though, and there are a number of factors to consider before we all get angry and shout at people on Twitter.

Balance the books

Roberto Martinez revealed earlier this week that Everton are a club that has "balanced the books" in the wake of the new TV deal flooding the league with cash. The news isn't particularly exciting - and indeed is frustrating - for supporters hoping the windfall will be spent on new players, but that doesn't mean it's no less significant. The David Moyes era was symbolised by the need to sell a key player each summer to pay off debts and supply the Scot with transfer funds. From Andy Johnson in 2008 right through to Marouane Fellaini - ironically bought by Moyes - in 2013, Everton were unable to resist offers from rival clubs, with pressure no doubt exerted from financial institutions. However, with their financial situation much more stable thanks the TV cash, meaning they should no longer feel the heat from the banks should a big-money bid come in.

It's time for the board to show some strength

There's no doubting the unpopularity of the Everton board right now given the club's repeated off-field failures, but now is a chance if not to redeem themselves but show they do at least have some redeeming qualities. Some fans on social media wasted no time in slagging off the board over the Stones bid, even though it was rejected - their views are so entrenched that any piece of news will be twisted and thrown back at the club's hierarchy. I can understand their concerns, we've seen our best players leave for years - going back to the likes of Francis Jeffers and Michael Ball in 2001. However, as mentioned above, the financial landscape has changed and Everton are in a far stronger bargaining position. The board, at this point, have played things right - they have used the TV cash to ease the crippling debts while signing up the club's best young players to long-term deals. That is why they have been able to resist bids for Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy over recent months and years. This looks like the acid test of Everton's new-found strength in the transfer market though, with the risk of supporter revolt a very real possibility should Stones be sold.

Player power

The Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling transfers show - if you didn't know already - that there is no such thing as loyalty in football. Players are instructed to give gushing statements about their current club to boost pr and appease the fans, but it is simply transferable spin, applicable to whichever club is paying the wages. Everton, deep down, know that their ability to keep hold of Stones rests entirely on the player. If he decides to push for a move, agents will be spurred into action and a move to Stamford Bridge becomes a question of 'when' and not 'if'. Stones seems like a sensible lad who knows he is onto a good thing at Everton, but we should not get too excited about his recent comments as things can quickly change - just look at Villa.

Money talks

As much as we all love John Stones and realise he has the potential to go to the very top, money will always win in modern football. It doesn't matter who you are, if a club comes in with a big enough offer you will have little choice to accept. If Chelsea do want Stones then they will have to pay, and even the most reluctant of Evertonians will admit that any offers close to £40million will almost certainly be accepted.

Is Stones worth that? Well, in today's hyper-inflated market probably yes, even if such eye-watering numbers highlight the absurdity of the premium placed on English players. It is a sum of money only two or three teams in the Premier League would be prepared to pay, meaning more than two-thirds of the division are in the same boat as Everton.

As much as it would hurt to see Stones leave, such a huge fee would enable Roberto Martinez to sign at least three quality players, as well as reducing the club's debt still further. It could even be put towards the training ground or Goodison Park. The club have to ensure they are the winners in this saga, either with John Stones remaining at Goodison Park or by taking an exorbitant amount of money from Roman Abramovich's already hefty bank account.