Everton have stood firm in their stance following further interest from Chelsea for central defender John Stones. Roberto Martinez indicates he's not willing to do business for the England man, especially with four years left on his contract.
"When you’ve got a long-term contract those things [transfer requests] don’t change matters at all. I think the situation has gone too far that any action would change things. If a player comes in from out of nowhere and puts in a transfer request that is a different situation. In a saga of, I don’t know how many weeks now, we are very clear."
However even forgetting the whole John Stones business, the Toffees could still do with strengthening their centre back options after allowing Sylvan Distin & Antolin Alcaraz to leave the club.
|28Y 5M||AGE||22Y 7M|
|6FT 5IN||HEIGHT||6FT 1IN|
|13ST 5LB||WEIGHT||12ST 5LB|
|PL | TOT |||| MID | CH|
|06/14 - 06/15||06/14 - 06/15|
A number of news outlets are linking Martinez with a move for Tottenham's Fazio who despite joining just last summer appears to now be available. However we also think they should consider Middlesbrough's Ben Gibson as a viable option.
Everton do have a great history of picking out top talent from the lower English divisions with Phil Jagielka coming from Sheffield United, John Stones from Barnsley and Brendan Galloway from MK Dons in recent memory.
Ben Gibson was a key part of the Middlesbrough defence last season who boasted the best defensive record in the Championship. He was also first choice pick for England's ultimately unsuccessful Euro Under 21 campaign, partnered with John Stones.
Last season he conceded the same number of goals as Federico Fazio did playing for Spurs but played an extra 16 games, albeit in a less competitive division.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka has stated that so far he's been lucky that no Premier League clubs have come calling for his centre back.
"I'm lucky, but I know him and the most important thing for him is that he is improving every day. He is a player that wants to be here because he grew up in the area.
He's a good example for everybody, including the first-team squad and the academy players. I'm lucky because he is still with us.
I cannot put a value on him because then I may have people asking to buy him."
Everton have a choice to either hold out for a fee too good to turn down or to hold onto their player, either way the ball is in their court and the length of the contract gives them plenty of negotiating strength.
Even if they chose to hold on to Stones, their squad is currently in need of another central defender and either player would represent an improvement on their current options.
Fazio represents a more tried and tested Premier League option and his 6' 5" frame adds some real height to the lineup. However Everton should be striving for more than just taking on Spurs's cast offs, the same goes for United's Johnny Evans.
Identifying the young talents of the future and nurturing them to fruition has been part of Everton's make up for many years and finding the next John Stones rather than replacing him with a poor mans version should be their focus. Mason Holgate may well turn out to be that man but at 18 years old, they'll also need a more Premier League ready option to play this season.
Everton travel to Barnsley for a televised Capital One Cup tie on Wednesday night, having won five and drawn two of their last seven games against the Tykes.
Our exclusive Kickoff algorithm gives the Merseyside outfit a strong 60% chance of winning at Oakwell.
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