A war of words has opened up between Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Everton counterpart Roberto Martinez over the London club’s pursuit of Toffee defender John Stones.
Mourinho has confirmed Chelsea have made a bid and will continue chasing the England international, as Martinez expressed his disappointment at Chelsea’s public comments over the matter.
The bid is believed to be in the region of £20 million (S$42.6 million) and Mourinho boldly declared his intention to keep trying to land Stones until told categorically he’s not for sale.
"We made a bid, we can make it - it's an open market until September 1," he said. "At the moment they say ‘we don't accept this bid’. They don't say 'we don’t accept bids; any bids'.
"While they say we don't accept this bid, until September 1 we can improve the bid, one pound more, 10 pounds more, we can improve the bid.
"If one day Roberto Martinez or the chairman come and say he's not for sale, we don't accept any bid, it's game over. So during this process, it's clear, we don't deny we made a bid for Stones. It means we are trying to buy."
Without European football, Everton is on high alert as bigger teams circle some of their better players. Seamus Coleman has been linked with a move to Manchester United, while James McCarthy is reportedly being pursued by Manchester City and Tottenham.
Speaking following Everton’s 3-1 defeat to Arsenal in the Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore, Martinez slammed Chelsea’s handling of the matter. Insisting the Merseysiders aren’t a “selling club”, he stopped short of Mourinho’s suggestion he declare they won’t accept any bid.
“We pride ourselves of playing a certain way and educating our young players in a manner that will always get attention from elsewhere and that’s always a compliment, a footballing compliment,” Martinez said.
“The other side is the disappointment of seeing a football club making such a statement to the press and making it so openly … there is no issue from our point of view.
“John Stones is an Everton player, full stop. We are not a selling club in that respect,” he added curtly.
Martinez emphasised Everton have been “very brave” in the past two years promoting younger players and his focus now is to improve the club further.
“We’ve given young players opportunities to develop important roles and we are going to carry on doing that,” he said. “We want to be strong, we want to be as competitive as we can. That’s the only focus I have today.”
Another player regularly linked with moves elsewhere is midfielder Ross Barkley, who scored with a powerful strike with 15 minutes remaining on Saturday night.
After the game, Martinez heaped praises on Barkley, calling him a “unique” player.
“In terms of what he is as a footballer, he is a dream, he is someone who wants to learn, who wants to get new footballing concepts in terms of his tactical position,” Martinez said. “In terms of ability, you are not going to get a better technical player.
“I think the goal today defines him. To beat a world class keeper from that distance with his weaker foot, it tells you the quality that he has.”comments