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City set to splash £50m on Toffees defender Stones

By Mark Ogden

Published 23/07/2016

In demand: Manchester City are eager to sign Everton ace John Stones
In demand: Manchester City are eager to sign Everton ace John Stones

Manchester City are ready to bid £50m for John Stones in an effort to accelerate the England defender's transfer from Everton.

Stones (22) is Pep Guardiola's number one defensive target, but Everton have made it clear that they will not listen to offers of anything less than £50m.

While City are keen to pay market value for the former Barnsley centre-half, there is a realisation within the club that this summer's inflated transfer spending throughout the Premier League will have a knock-on effect with high-level signings such as Stones.

The youngster endured an unproductive time at Euro 2016 with England last month, failing to register a single minute of action as Roy Hodgson's team were eliminated by Iceland in the last 16.

But despite the belief within the game that Stones' progress stalled at Everton last season, he is still regarded by City as potentially being the leading English centre-half for the next decade.

Manchester United's interest in the player has subsided following the signing of Eric Bailly from Villarreal, but Jose Mourinho is a confirmed admirer of Stones having failed in a long-running battle to sign him for Chelsea last summer.

Stones is understood to have settled on City as his favoured destination, however, and with Everton manager Ronald Koeman determined to avoid a drawn out transfer saga, the Merseyside club are likely to be receptive to a bid from City if it meets their valuation.

The City squad landed in Beijing yesterday for a two-game tour of China which sees the club face United in the Chinese capital on Monday, followed by a clash with Borussia Dortmund in Shenzhen.

Sam Allardyce's installation as England manager, meanwhile, means Wayne Rooney goes into the 2016-17 campaign under two new managers, with Mourinho arriving at United as Louis van Gaal's successor.

Rooney sat out United's 4-1 defeat to Dortmund having only returned to training at the beginning of the week, but he admits he has been re-energised by Mourinho's appointment and is now desperate to make his first appearance under the Portuguese against City on Monday.

"I want to play against City," Rooney said. "Training has gone well. I have had three weeks off and obviously you lose a bit of fitness, but I feel good, so I want to get out back playing.

"I've been working under the manager for the last few days and the sessions have been very good. It is exciting. He is one of the best managers in world football and he has a clear idea of what he wants. I'm just looking forward to playing for him now.

"I came to United because I wanted to work under Sir Alex Ferguson and considering what Mourinho has done in Spain, Italy and England, he is a manager who you want to play under and to learn from what he brings is going to be exciting for me."

Belfast Telegraph

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