Ferdinand: Forget Chelsea, Stones should go to Manchester United

The recently retired ex-England international feels moving to Stamford Bridge to sit on the bench would be lunacy and believes the Everton man can handle a big-money move

John Stones would be “a lunatic” if he signed for Chelsea and should instead join Manchester United, according to former Red Devils defender Rio Ferdinand.

Goal understands Chelsea have had two bids rejected for the Everton defender, with Roberto Martinez claiming the Toffees will not be forced into selling one of their prized assets.

Both United and Manchester City have since been linked with a move for the former Barnsley man as they look to bolster their own defensive ranks.

And Ferdinand, who retired from professional football at the end of last season having won six Premier League titles and the Champions League in 12 seasons at Old Trafford, feels a move to the Red Devils would be most beneficial to his career.

“If he goes to Manchester United he plays every week, so that’s the right club for him, I think,” he told reporters. “If he goes to Chelsea, he’s not playing every week.

“He’s at that stage of his development where he wants to play every week. If you say to any young footballer to leave a club to sit on the bench, you’ve got to be a lunatic. You have to be.

“I’d buy John Stones if I’m Man United. You’re buying someone who’s going to give you ten years’ service. He’s a great prospect — the best young centre-half in the country at the moment. It’s a no-brainer for me.”

Stones has been compared to Ferdinand due to his confidence in possession and willingness to carry the ball out of defence in a bid to start attacks.

And the former England international admits he is a fan of the 21-year-old and feels he could deal with the pressure of moving for a hefty fee.

“He’s very good on the ball. I took a real interest in him and watched him at Loftus Road against Bobby Zamora, who gave most centre-halves problems last season physically and he handled Bobby well, and that physical element.

“That was one of the areas that I hadn’t really seen him under pressure with and he looked up for that battle. With all the other stuff he’s got, he’s got a real good chance.

“Looking at him as a footballer, technically he plays with a certain amount of maturity, I think he would be ready to go and do that. But he is the better judge of that. I don’t know him personally.

“Huge price tag [so] he is not going to be able to go in under the radar and bed in. He is going to go in, if he signs for Man United, as the number one centre-half; for Chelsea, probably as an understudy for a certain amount of time.”

Official: Hysaj follows Sarri to Napoli

The Albanian defender has joined Mirko Valdifiori and the head coach in leaving Empoli for the San Paolo this summer

Napoli have completed their sixth close-season signing with the arrival of defender Elseid Hysaj from Serie A rivals Empoli.

The Albania international is the second Empoli player to make the move to the San Paolo ahead of the new season, the full-back treading the same route made by Mirko Valdifiori in following head coach Maurizio Sarri to Naples.

Hysaj was an integral part of the Empoli side that preserved their top-flight status under Sarri last season and his arrival was widely expected after he featured in Sunday’s 3-2 friendly defeat to Nice.

“We are trying to fill that gap that is still in the defence,” Sarri told Radio Kiss Kiss. “I am very happy because Hysaj ensures cover and tactical sense, plus he can play on both sides so that leaves me happy.

“Now we have to insist on more new players, the market is moving both incoming and outgoing, and we will see what happens. 

“We are working to make Napoli more and more competitive.”

Hysaj is the second defensive acquisition in less than a week, following hot on the heels of Vlad Chiriches, who moved from Tottenham on July 30.

Higuain has turned down new Napoli deal, confirms agent

The striker’s representative says he will honour his current terms – which expire in 2018 – for now, and revealed no other clubs have been in contact over a move

Gonzalo Higuain has rejected the offer of a new contract with Napoli, according to the striker’s agent.

The Argentina international, who moved to the San Paolo in 2013 from Real Madrid, still has three years to run on his current deal but has been linked with a potential summer transfer nonetheless.

Nicolas Higuain, his brother and representative, has now confirmed they have turned down a one-year extension to his contract, though he says there are no current plans to move away from Napoli.

“We had a meeting with the president [Aurelio De Laurentiis] in Venice 10 days ago,” he told Radio Crc.

“We talked about everything. He offered a one-year contract extension, but in my opinion – and ours – we will continue with the original contract, expiring in 2018.

“The contract isn’t that different to the one we signed before, so for us it’s not a real offer. We are calm and happy to continue with the current conditions.

“At the moment, we have faith that Gonzalo will stay at Napoli, with a team which is 100 per cent focused and can win something.

“It seems strange, but the big clubs have not contacted me, nor have I spoken with anyone.”

Higuain endured a disappointing summer as two crucial misses – one in the penalty shootout – cost Argentina in the final of the Copa America in Chile.

But his brother is confident the forward will be ready to challenge for honours in the coming campaign.

“Gonzalo arrived in Dimaro [for pre-season training] in good condition. He’s an introverted player, not some snake oil salesman who likes to show off. You won’t see him on Twitter taking pictures all day. I have heard he’s training well, and that’s what’s important.

“Everyone dreams of winning something important, but this year it will be even more difficult because of the way teams have strengthened.

“It will be a tough campaign, when the first ball is kicked we [Napoli] will try to show our worth.”