John Stones
John Stones is being scouted by Manchester United and Chelsea Getty

Chelsea are preparing an improved £26m ($40m) bid for Everton defender John Stones after having had a bid rejected earlier in the summer, according to the Mirror.

Jose Mourinho has earmarked the defender as a like for like replacement for John Terry, who has entered his mid thirties and is unlikely to carry on for much longer.

The defender has a domineering presence in the Toffees defence which has attracted interest from Manchester United, as also reported by the Mirror. United want to sign the player to add more depth to their defence.

Louis van Gaal had made Sergio Ramos his top target for the summer, as reported by the Guardian, but with Real Madrid unwilling to let go of their captain, the Dutchman has been forced to look at other options. Stones would also add to the homegrown quota at either club, compliance with which has been made mandatory by the FA.

However, Everton want at least £34m for the player's signature, which would be a league record fee for a defender, closely followed by the acquisition of Eliaquim Mangala by Manchester City. The Toffees are unperturbed by the interest and gave him a full 90 minutes against Hearts whom they beat 3-1, as Roberto Martinez continues his pre-season journey.

The defender also started against Arsenal in the final of the Barclay's Asia Trophy and found himself on the wrong end of a 3-1 battering by the Gunners, who have started the campaign with gusto.

Meanwhile, Mourinho wants to complete a deal for the player imminently, possibly before their Community Shield game against Arsenal on 2 August. The Blues have not been particularly busy in the market this season, with only Radamel Falcao and Asmir Begovic coming into the side on a starting capacity thus far.

Therefore, keeping his summer business in perspective, the Portuguese manager has criticised clubs who have spent heavily this summer, accusing them of trying to buy the title.

"In the beginning of Mr Abramovich coming to Chelsea, Chelsea was buying the title. Now, they are buying the title. All of them, they are buying the title," Mourinho said, as quoted by the ESPN.

"It is up to us to be strong and to fight them and, obviously, to try and win it again, even without the big investments."