One of English football’s longest running transfer sagas, John Stones to whichever elite club in the country, finally came to an end on Tuesday morning. Everton stood firm for 13 months, rejecting three Chelsea bids in the process, before finally allowing the centre back to join Manchester City. They held out for £47.5 million; a record fee for an English defender. The completion of the move returned a smile to the face of the 22-year-old and kick-started Everton’s summer spending. Ashley Williams signed for £12 million and Everton also look set to complete the signing of Lamine Kone.
Stones’ sale kick-starts Everton’s summer spending
Money CAN buy you Stones
It was July last year when Everton were rocked by Chelsea’s disruptive attempts to lure Stones to Stamford Bridge. The Toffees are a club that pride themselves on doing business quietly. The Londoners had other ideas. After their initial £20 million bid was rejected, Chelsea leaked the negotiations to the press.
A second bid of £26 million was also rebuffed; as well as a third offer of £30 million. Everton maintained the player was not for sale from the off. Chelsea were relentless but Stones, despite a late transfer request, remained at Goodison Park.
Everton’s stern stance regarding the defender enthused their supporters to rewrite a Beatles classic. At the season’s start, Stones still commanding his own area and galloping through midfields with the ball at his feet, Evertonians sang at will, Money Can’t Buy You Stones. But soon after, his form dipped dramatically. So much so, he was dropped to the bench by Roberto Martinez and then was unused by Roy Hodgson at Euro 2016.
His inconsistent performances did nothing to deter the Premier League’s best teams, nor did Everton’s new regime tempt Stones to stay put. It took most of the summer for the two clubs to agree a fee, but today the transfer was completed, and it proved money can, in fact, buy you Stones.
One out, three in?
Almost immediately after Stones’ departure was announced by Everton, it emerged a £12m deal had been agreed with Swansea for Williams. A little later, and there were reports Everton were set to sign Sunderland defender, Kone, as soon as the Black Cats secure a replacement.
It became clear the sale of Stones stood in the way of Ronald Koeman bringing in the faces he wanted. Williams and Kone don’t offer Everton a graceful ball-player, but do provide strength, aerial prowess and athleticism at the back. The duo will help to shore up the backline which has been consistently leaky for two successive seasons. Less risk and more solidity seems to be the Koeman ethos.
With fellow new arrival, Idrissa Gueye, providing protection in front of them, the manager has shaped his defensive structure for the coming season. Large sections of the fan base still clamour for a leading goalkeeper to be brought in. However, it is looking increasingly likely that Maarten Stekelenburg will claim the number one spot. For today at least, Everton had their sights set on another position in need of improvement.
Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie was the third player on Everton’s radar. Sky Sports reporting a deal of up to £30 million had been agreed for the Congolese international. The winger, who not only possesses pace and trickery, has an abundance of power. Strength, grit, and power are all things that Everton could be accused of lacking pre-Koeman.
Earlier this week, Koeman stressed his players are ‘too nice’.
So far his transfer targets suggest his immediate aim is to make Everton more aggressive all over the pitch. Everton’s summer spending has finally been kicked into life. With one or two more stylish additions, they could be a force to be reckoned with.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – AUGUST 08: John Stones of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Watford at Goodison Park on August 8, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)