Chelsea give up pursuit of Everton's John Stones
Chelsea believe they can do no more to persuade Everton to sell John Stones in this transfer window after making one final £38m bid this week, their fourth offer for the defender this summer.
The champions have taken yesterday's communication from the Toffees that there is no prospect of them signing Stones in this window at face value, with a public statement to that effect from chairman Bill Kenwright giving the Merseyside club no wriggle room ahead of Tuesday's deadline.
The 21-year-old Stones met manager Roberto Martinez at Everton's Finch Farm training ground and was given the news in person that his transfer request, handed in on Tuesday, was to be rejected and that the club would not sell him at any price.
Chelsea are now looking at other options.
The decision was made by Martinez and Kenwright, and demonstrates the shifting attitudes of those clubs outside the traditional top six, as they finished last season.
With the league on the eve of the £5.14bn, three-year TV deal and a lucrative international rights offer coming, the kind of sums offered for players by Champions League clubs in the past are simply not gaining the traction they once did.
In a statement, Everton said they had rejected Stones' transfer request. It read: "Since the start of the window, we have resolutely turned down offers from another club for our player. John is not for sale and he will remain a highly valued member of our first-team squad."
Chelsea will now push ahead with a number of other options they have pursued this summer in the centre-back position, although they have not made a final decision on who, if anyone, they will sign. Their policy wherever possible is to sign young, English talent and that points towards a return for Stones at some point.
There was no question that Stones wanted to leave but his decision to sign a new five-year contract just 12 months ago meant he had no leverage.
Chelsea will also pursue Paul Pogba's signing over the remainder of the transfer window.