We Need to Talk About John Stones

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There’s a lot being said about John Stones at the moment.

Jose Mourinho started it all, making public Chelsea’s attempt at a first bid for the young centre back. Roberto Martinez responded in kind, making clear that he was far from happy with his Portuguese counterpart revealing a bid had been made and knocked back.

Since then, everyone has pitched in. Chris Bascombe of The Times reported on Sunday night that dialogue had already been entered into between the clubs before the first bid of £20m was made.

John Terry’s mouth took time out from adulterous pre-season adventures with team mates’ spouses to pitch his two cents, describing Stones oh-so innocently as “an exceptional and brave defender”. On Tuesday night, various national media outlets claimed Stones was keen to speak with Chelsea about a possible move, however not a single quote from any source whatsoever -never mind a reliable one- could be found among the articles and reports.

Chelsea’s second bid -in excess of £30m- greeted us on Wednesday to the sound of Mourinho making ever-so hurtful, original and classy quips about “small clubs”. And to top off a 5 day Chelsea-media love in, Gary Cahill thought the air hadn’t been soured with enough shite, spontaneously giving the world his unprompted opinion.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Kenwright could be heard in the press, finding time to compliment the “best centre back in the county” in between comments made to a local north-east publication on Mike Ashley, his own touring theatre production and the old boys-pen at Goodison (probably, for the latter).

But so far we’ve heard nothing from the man (young man, rather) whose words and wishes can put an end to this whole silly saga, and from whom everyone is most desperate to hear from.

But it’s unlikely we’ll hear anything on the matter from young Stones until the matter is resolved. And maybe that’s for the best. Much has been said (or at least implied) on his behalf by tabloid journalists, while the queue for public compliments and advice is longer than the half-time bog line in the Lower Gwladys.

Young, English, sought after internationals very rarely come off well when they open their mouths amidst transfer speculation or negotiation.

Stones, well advised by his own management it would seem, is keeping quiet and allowing the transfer to play out as determined by his own club and potential suitor. Until an agreement is reached, the matter lies between Everton and Chelsea, and anything Stones wants to say (if done correctly) should be said to his employers. Everton have at least tried to do business in the correct way; that is, without the help of the press as intermediaries.

Chelsea on the other hand are seemingly content to try and get what they want at all costs, and how it may end up costing them. Roman Abramovich is the all-powerful dictator in this plot, happy to let loose on the press his favourite, grey-muzzled pet if money alone won’t talk.

Mourinho has always done his whining in public, and his club’s tapping up of Stones is as clear as it is contemptible. At this point, it would seem Everton have no choice but to engage at the level of the press. They should make clear with words what written letters and properly conducted negotiations have so far failed to communicate: that John Stones is not for sale.

A print out of Everton’s 9 league titles next to Chelsea’s 5 might also go some way to clearing up that “small club” mis-quote.

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