By Chelsea correspondent Tony Hughes
Chelsea are poised to make a third bid for John Stones next week in a fresh attempt to convince Everton to sell the defender, Football Insider sources understand.
The Premier League champions have had two bids rejected for Stones, and will try with a third that is expected to be around the £33million mark.
Chelsea have been encouraged by Stones’ private stance that he is attracted by the idea of moving to west London, in stark contrast to him being quoted as saying he does not want to leave Goodison Park.
Jose Mourinho’s team had a second bid of £26million rejected earlier this week but have not been put off and will make another formal move for one of their prime remaining targets in the summer window.
Chelsea have identified Stones as the long-term successor to John Terry and remain determined to make him the most expensive English defender in history. The current record is the £30 million that Manchester United paid Leeds United for Rio Ferdinand in 2002.
Everton have been antagonised by Mourinho’s public pursuit of the player but, despite their insistence that Stones is not for sale, a £33m bid should be enough to secure his signature before the end of the summer window.
Football Insider revealed in June that Chelsea had made an enquiry for the centre-back, who is widely regarded as a future cornerstone of the national team.
Terry signed a one-year contract extension at the end of last season but turns 35 in December and is in the twilight of his career.
Stones has attracted attention for his polished displays for Everton since joining from Barnsley in a £3m move in January 2013, aged 18.
With four years remaining on his contract, the Merseysiders do not want to lose a player who has developed rapidly during his 15 months in the first team.
But they have begun identifying alternatives, who include Manchester United’s Jonny Evans and Swansea’s Ashley Williams.