Everton: the phoney war to keep Barnsley boy Stones from Chelsea
Transfer Balls: The Sun reports that Everton are unhappy with Chelsea captain John Terry for trying to lure John Stones, 21, to Stamford Bridge.
Asked about JT’s comments, Goodison chief Martinez said: “It is wrong — you know that it is illegal. The rules don’t allow you to comment on players at other clubs in that open manner — and that is disappointing… I am not stupid enough to say I know what will happen but I’ve always said he is not for sale.”
Everton have rejected bids of £20m and £26m for Stones. They have told Chelsea in writing that Stones is not for sale. But Terry hasn’t got the message, opining on Wednesday:
“One day I won’t be in the team but Chelsea are looking to the likes of John Stones for the future, so the club will continue to grow and do well.”
The Guardian notes:
Everton appear content at present to register their complaint with Chelsea rather than with the authorities. Martínez added: “We have a fantastic relationship between the two clubs. In the past we made our biggest investment in Chelsea [when signing Romelu Lukaku]. We all know there are rules and regulations and it is something we don’t want to see when other clubs speak about your players. It is wrong and it shouldn’t happen. As clubs we have a good understanding of where we are.”
Martinez goes on to make a lengthy ‘no comment’:
“We haven’t been in that situation. The whole John Stones situation has come through the media because a club made a bid and made it public. We have never been in a situation of commenting. We have a very talented young player who really has the potential to be the best centre-half England has produced, so you are going to get that attraction. That is natural, healthy and very, very positive. But a player can make a decision when the clubs say he can make a decision. There is nothing to make a decision on. There is no negotiation. There is no relationship between the clubs in terms of trying to find a deal.
“The modern game has gone in such a way that sometimes there are things you cannot control. But what you can control is your own finances and we are not a football club that has to sell to balance the books. If you think we need to sell John Stones to balance the books, that is not the case. As a club we are brave enough to give young players a big role and we know we will have to go through situations where these players might get interest from elsewhere. But as long as we can control our finances that is not a problem.”
Stones is not an Everton boy. Everton signed Stones from Barnsley for around £3m in 2013. Stones chose Everton over interest from Aston Villa, Sunderland, Manchester City, Wigan and Chelsea. The Barnsley Chronicle says “Barnsley will command a large sell-on fee from any future transfer“. The Star claims a free of £30m will earn Barnsley £4.5m.
Chelsea’s public seduction of Stones is crass and desperate, a sticky page ripped from the Barcelona book of transfers. Everton are right to be annoyed. But Martinez should recall the words of Barnsley manager David Flitcroft, who was unhappy to lose local hero Stones to Everton:
“There’s been a bidding war for John Stones. On Wednesday night I was pretty confident that we’d be keeping him but I got the call at 9.30am on Thursday morning to say that John Stones would probably be leaving the club. I’m numb, it’s like losing a member of your own family. I was asked if I could replace him on Thursday and the answer was no. How do you replace one of the best young defenders in England?”
Players move to bigger, wealthier clubs. Barnsley could not ignore Everton’s millions.
Stones was sorry to leave but knew he had to go:
“Barnsley was all I had ever known. I had been at the club since I was seven and came through all the age groups then played for the first team. Making the decision to leave was very hard and I knew it would be life-changing but I think any young lad in my position would have done the same thing.
“I don’t know too much about the financial side of it but hopefully the money Barnsley got for me will help them in years to come. I got quite emotional when I went back to say goodbye to everyone. They were all like family to me so it was very hard to leave them. But I know they are only a phone call away.”
Everton’s CEO Robert Elstone understands the system, telling the Chronicle:
“Barnsley should be very proud of John and what he has achieved. At Everton, we have taken advantage of all the hard work that John and the Barnsley academy coaches did over the years. “
And very soon Chelsea will take advantage of the work Everton have done in furthering Stones’ career. Unless Everton play Champions’ League football, challenge for the title and pay Stamford Bridge-size wages, Stones will move on. Martinez is fighting the tide. All Everton can do is get as much for Stones as they can. He is for sale. They all are. The sensible thing would be to start a bidding war – after all, Everton won such a battle before.