Manchester City have emerged favourites to sign Everton defender John Stones as they look to table a bid worth £50m ($66m) for the England international. New manager Pep Guardiola has made Stones his prime target after missing out on Aymeric Laporte, who has decided to stay in Athletic Bilbao.
The Telegraph reports that Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester United, who were all interested in the defender, have conceded defeat, making this almost a one-horse race for the promising young star. Stones made his way to the Euros with England but did not play a single minute in the finals, despite having performed admirably in the qualifiers.
The report states that Stones has made up his mind about wanting to move to the Etihad and Everton, who rejected bids from Chelsea last summer, are unwilling to keep him at the Goodison for another season against his wishes. The 2013/14 Champions are likely to make an imminent bid for the defender so as to make him available for City's pre-season preparation, which gets underway later this month.
Stones will become the most expensive defender ever in Premier League history, trumping Rio Ferdinand's move to United for a fee in the range of £34m ($45m) in 2002. The Citizens have already confirmed the signing of Nolito from Celta Vigo and are likely to make a host of other additions before the end of the summer window.
"I'll try to bring as much as I possibly can," Nolito told the club's official website after signing for City. "I'll do everything that the manager asks of me, try my absolute best and do everything I can to try to repeat the form I've shown throughout my career at various clubs.
"It's just about trying to play my normal game and let's hope that I can help Manchester City to win games. I think that Pep Guardiola is one of the best managers in the world. He knows a lot about the game and he's going to help me progress as a player and I'm sure he'll get the best out of me."