Everton boss Roberto Mart nez has once again criticised Chelsea FC for their public pursuit of highly-rated Toffees starlet John Stones, but his comments seem to be that of a manager afraid of losing his star defender

There is something about Everton manager Roberto Mart nez’s increasingly vehement denials regarding the possibility of John Stones leaving for Chelsea FC that seems to suggest it is but a front to mask his anxiety over the potential departure of one of the most talented players in the Toffees squad.

The same hackneyed “he is not for sale” response has begun to lose its meaning, particularly given Mart nez has not only admitted that the Blues’ interest has distracted Stones, but also expressed his desire to make three new signings before the close of business on the 1st of September.

Although it is beyond question that the Toffees manager would very much want the England international to stay, the hardline stance the club have taken in public could well be a fa ade – a means of testing just how far Jos Mourinho’s side is willing to go to sign Stones.

As such, Everton are only delaying the inevitable. If Chelsea FC offer something in the region of A?30 million, or higher, it would be extremely difficult for the Toffees to turn it down should they really want to reinvest the money to strengthen the squad overall.

Mart nez unhappy with “illegal” Chelsea FC comments

The Spaniard has once again hit out at Chelsea FC – this time seemingly in response to John Terry’s comments regarding Stones potentially being part of the future at Stamford Bridge.

Mart nez is quoted by the Guardian as saying: “That is wrong; that is illegal. The rules dona t allow you to comment on players who are registered at other clubs in that open manner. That is disappointing.”

However, the former Wigan Athletic boss also added: “I am not stupid enough to say I know what will happen.”

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Earlier, the Everton manager admitted that his talented young centre-half had indeed been distracted by Chelsea’s interest. He is quoted by the Guardian as saying: “Yes, and it is something where you hope you learn from it and you get more mature and those experiences are good experiences.

a Clearly John is one of the outstanding young talents that we have in the squad and you are going to get that sort of interest from the outside.”

Stones saga could go down to the wire…to Everton’s detriment

Although it was more or less apparent that John Stones was indeed tempted by the interest Chelsea FC showed in him, the confirmation from Roberto Mart nez leaves no doubts whatsoever. As such, there is little that a club of Everton’s stature can do to prevent an eventual transfer to a bigger club.

Everton have to be careful to not overplay their hand, however, because Mourinho and Chelsea might just call their bluff. In the recent past, the Blues have shown that they are not willing to be bullied in their transfer business, and should the Toffees demand too much, they could be faced with a situation where they delay Stones’ inevitable departure until next season without strengthening their squad significantly this.

Although that might not seem like a terrible scenario, it is worth noting that Mart nez’s men are in danger of falling far behind the likes of Southampton, Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur, whilst the ambition of clubs like Crystal Palace and Stoke City should also be a cause for concern.

Besides, if they do in fact intend to sell Stones for a particular price this summer, they would do well to get the move wrapped up as soon as possible so as to leave themselves at least a week or more to reinvest that money usefully. Potentially losing Stones on deadline day would be a disaster for the club, and is something the Toffees must avoid at all costs.

Given the current impasse however, it seems as though that is where the John Stones saga is headed.