The Daily Mail is reporting that Manchester United have decided to pursue Everton defender John Stones. This comes after a week of rumors about Stones moving to London to play for Chelsea. Based on multiple reports, Everton is furious with how Chelsea and their manager, Jose Mourinho have conducted themselves. United on the other hand have decided to be a bit more discrete and have requested that Everton keep them up to date in case any potential deal with Chelsea falls through.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez publicly came out this past week and blasted his Chelsea counterpart over how the club has pursued and possibly unsettled Stones. Their initial £20M bid also fell laughably short of the Toffee's £38M valuation of the player. Rumors have been circulating that Chelsea is planning to or may already have submitted an increased offer for Stones.
Manchester United supposedly have had the player on their radar for three years now. In his second summer with the Red Devils, Louis van Gaal has open access to the club's checkbook and very well could give Chelsea a literal run for their money when competing for the same player.
There's no doubt that United are in the market for a defender this summer. They have been involved in high profile talks with Real Madrid over the transfer of Sergio Ramos. Staying with the Spanish sides, they have also expressed interest in Nicholas Otamendi of Valencia. Though both players are great in their own right, Stones represents a better long-term value as he is only 21. Ramos and Otamendi are 29 and 27 respectively.
Unlike Chelsea who do not seem to be looking to swap players in this particular transaction, United do have some players that Everton may be interested in. Defender Johnny Evans has supposedly been told that he may leave the club as soon as a replacement is found. United have him valued at £7M and he has been linked to Everton in this window.
Another player that seems to be on the outs with the manager and who has been linked to Everton in the past is striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. Other players that Everton could be interested in include defender Tyler Blackett and winger Ashley Young.
The likelihood of seeing Stones leave Merseyside this summer is still very hard to read. The official line from Roberto Martinez has been that they player is not for sale. End of story. Mourinho, the master of mind tricks seems to think differently though and is poised to throw more oil money Everton's way until he lands his target.
With the negative tone that these talks have taken in the media though, it may be said that the relationship between the two clubs is damaged and will be for some time. If United take a more tactful, quieter road to negotiate with the Toffees, they may well become the club that is able to strike a deal.