By Alex Taylor

Everton could be about to finally lose their battle to keep John Stones at Goodison Park, according to a report.

The Express claim that Manchester City are preparing an official bid for the England defender.

Chelsea made three bid for Stones last summer of up to £35million but City are said to be prepared to go to the £40million mark and smash the record fee that Everton have either paid or received.

The highest sum Everton have received was £27million when Maroanne Fellaini joined Manchester United in 2013, while their record outlay is the £28million spent to entice Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea 12 months later.

City have struggled this season after a long-term injury to Vincent Kompany left them without any consistent centre-backs.

Eliaquim Mangala, Martín Demichelis and Nicolas Otamendi have struggled at times throughout City’s most recent campaign.

Stones was the subject of several bids from Chelsea last summer and with the player contracted to the Toffee’s until 2019, Ronald Koeman will be hoping any new bids this time around will be rejected.

Everton fans are hopeful that new owner Farhad Moshiri will give the club some stability in the transfer market as they are not forced to sell their stars to fund new additions.

The centre-back has shown flashes of potential throughout a tumultuous season for Everton, playing in 41 games in all competitions.

Toffees fans may have cause for concern though if the former Barnsley 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, Toffees midfielder Darron Gibson has described Ronald Koeman as a “good appointment” and explained the club’s target for next season.