Seven alternatives to John Stones that Chelsea could sign
Chelsea’s ongoing pursuit of Everton’s John Stones has stolen many headlines in the last few weeks, with both clubs going public with their thoughts on the 21-year-old’s potential move from Liverpool to London.
While Stones is clearly a very gifted defender, he's far from the only option out there – good news, seeing as the Blues aren't likely to get him. "The player is not for sale and that is the end of it," huffed Toffees boss Roberto Martinez. "Our situation has been very clear from the beginning. We are not a selling club who will lose our best performers."
So, Jose, here's a septet of stoppers who could fit the bill instead...
Aymen Abdennour (Monaco)
Monaco registered 20 clean sheets and conceded just 26 goals on their way to a third-place finish in Ligue 1 last term, an impressive defensive record that Abdennour played an essential role in achieving.
Aggressive and uncompromising, the Tunisian is a powerful centre-back who looks to dominate opposition strikers with his physicality. The 26-year-old is imposing both in the air and in the tackle, and is more than happy to step out from the back to engage opponents higher up the pitch.
Such an approach can occasionally see him caught out and earn one too many yellow cards, but his robustness and no-nonsense mentality would likely be appreciated by a manager like Mourinho. Abdennour has been linked with Barcelona, Liverpool and Arsenal already this summer, so Chelsea may have to get in there quickly if they want to land him.
Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao)
SCOUTED Aymeric Laporte
You could be forgiven for assuming Laporte is a midfielder rather than defender. Composed with the ball at his feet, the Frenchman possesses great vision and a superb left foot that's capable of spreading play and delivering accurate, long passes. His technical ability doesn't mean he can't defend, though: Laporte is strong and an excellent tackler, while his ability to play at left-back adds versatility to his game.
Laporte recently extended his Athletic contract until 2019, but recent history has shown that putting pen to paper on a new deal doesn't necessarily prevent a transfer – not least as he has a €50 million release clause that could be activated. Even if he is likely to command a hefty fee, Chelsea could do far worse than the Frenchman, who has also attracted interest from Manchester United and Arsenal in the past.