By Editor Wayne Veysey

Chelsea will test Everton’s resolve to keep John Stones with another move for the defender in the January window, Football Insider sources understand.

The Premier League champions had three bids rejected for the England centre-back by the Merseysiders last summer and a transfer request from Stones failed to force his club’s hand.

That will not put off Chelsea from making another move for Stones, who is rated at the £40million mark by Everton.

He has maintained his smooth progress with some fine performances for Everton this season and is gradually gaining recognition as one of Europe’s outstanding young defenders.

Asked who has caught his eye in his centre-back position in England, Barcelona’s Gerard Pique said: “Rio Ferdinand and John Terry were the two main central defenders in England. Top-level. Now I think John Stones is a really, really, good player. He will have a good career.

“He’s like Rio, a bit. He’s young and alongside him they probably need one who is more experienced. [Phil] Jagielka is injured. But [Chris] Smalling is playing well at Manchester United.”

Stones, 21, is expected to be a key figure for England at next summer’s European Championships, where he will fit with Gary Cahill, Phil Jageilka, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling for the centre-back places.