By Harvey Byrne
Everton could be about to finally lose their battle to keep John Stones at Goodison Park, according to a report.
The Telegraph claims that Manchester City are preparing to pay up to £50million to land Stones and are confident in signing the defender in time for him to join them when he returns after his post-Euro 2016 break.
The Toffees have placed the £50million valuation on Stones, but that has done nothing to deter City and a firm bid is expected to be placed imminently.
Chelsea made three bids for Stones last summer of up to £35million, but new boss Pep Guardiola has earmarked the 22-year-old as a key part of his revolution and is willing to meet the Goodison Park club’s demands.
Barcelona and Manchester United have also been chasing the England centre-back, but City are reportedly confident that their willingness to spend so big has effectively made it a one horse race.
The highest sum Everton have received was £27million when Marouanne Fellaini joined Manchester United in 2013, with the possibility growing that this deal could double it.
The centre-back still has three years left on his current deal after joining from Barnsley in the 2013 January transfer window for £2million.
Stones has shown flashes of potential throughout a tumultuous season for Everton, playing in 41 games in all competitions but he did not figure for England at Euro 2016 after being omitted in favour of Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill.
Toffees fans may have cause for concern though if the 10-time England capped defender was to move on as it would leave just two experienced central defenders at the club, Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori.
In other Everton news, the Goodison Park club’s interest in midfielder Axel Witsel is concrete.