Manchester United will have to pay in excess of £45m ($68.7m) to land Everton defender John Stones in the summer. The Red Devils have joined the list of admirers and are willing to duke it out with Chelsea and Barcelona for the England international's services.
According to Manchester Evening News, the Red Devils have been monitoring the young defender's progress and are willing to battle the Blues, who have been long-time admirers of Stones. They even had several approaches rebuffed by the Merseyside club last summer.
Jose Mourinho is keen to strengthen in January and according to the Daily Mail, the Portuguese manager will make a fresh approach. Roberto Martinez, however, has made it clear that Everton will not sell any of their top players during the upcoming transfer window. They rejected a £38m ($58m) bid from the reigning Premier League champions in the summer, but the report claims that a British-record bid of £45m could tempt the Toffees into parting with their prized possession.
"From our point of view the window in January will be, as it has always been, to try and see if there is anything we can do to help the squad we have in place and, if there ever are any opportunities, we will always look into it," he told a press conference ahead of their game against Aston Villa.
"But we don't look at this as a window where we will, be really involved, to bring players or to sell players. For us, it is more a matter of continuity. From now until the international break in March it is about developing the strongest possible squad we have."
Stones's recent performances have attracted attention from all across Europe with Barcelona also showing an interest in signing the defender. Everton will be keen to hold on to the Three Lions regular beyond the current campaign, but the top clubs are certain to make a bid either in January or during the summer transfer window.
The report claims that United, who are currently preparing for their clash against Watford on Saturday (21 November), will not be put off by the Toffees' valuation and will be prepared to meet their demands after paying £27m to lure Luke Shaw from Southampton last summer.