The Daily Star report that John Stones is part of a fierce bidding war between derby rivals Manchester United and City, fueled by the Mourinho/Guardiola rivalry.
According to Jeremy Cross, both managers have renewed their interest in young Everton star John Stones for different reasons.
As Chelsea boss this time last year, Jose Mourinho spent months chasing the defender, who was the subject of three bids from Chelsea – ranging from £20-30 million. Stones reportedly handed in a transfer request to leave Goodison Park at the time, but the move never came to fruition.
Now back in the Premier League at Manchester United, the Portuguese is keen on resuming his interest in the 22-year-old.
On City’s end, new boss Pep Guardiola has entered the race, having missed out on young Frenchman, Aymeric Laporte, who signed a new deal with Athletic Bilbao.
While City would presumably have the financial muscle to compete with anyone in the market, The Star give two reasons why the odds of signing Stones are tipped in United’s favour.
Firstly, Laporte apparently had a buyout clause worth an eye-watering £55m – a bridge said to be too far for Pep. If Stones’ reported valuation of £50m rings true though (judging by the bids rejected last summer, this appears to be the case), it represents a similarly pricey barrier to a purchase.
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) June 14, 2016
Secondly, according to Cross:
“Mourinho is not prepared to miss out on getting Stones again – let alone to Guardiola – and will offer him a long-term deal worth around £150,000-a-week that he thinks the centre back will not be able to turn down.”
It appears that Stones in particular is of a high priority to Mourinho, who would successfully shore up United’s defence if the deals goes through, having already signed Eric Bailly from Villarreal.