Pep Guardiola wants the England defender at the Etihad Stadium in time for the new season but the club have told the Toffees that they are unwilling to raise their initial offer
Manchester City are ready to get tough with Everton in their pursuit of John Stones.
Pep Guardiola identified Stones as a priority target months ago, and the 22-year-old’s desire to play for the Catalan coach at the Etihad Stadium has forced other potential suitors to back away from negotiations.
It had been expected that City would pay Everton’s £50 million asking price in a bid to incorporate Stones into their squad as soon as possible ahead of the new Premier League season.
But senior City sources are now insistent that they will not budge on their valuation of the England defender, which is in the region of £40m.
It is understood Everton are aware of that stance and, as far as City are concerned, the ball is now in the Merseysiders’ court.
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Director of football Txiki Begiristain had been with the club in China for their curtailed International Champions Cup campaign.
He has also been brokering deals for Schalke’s Leroy Sane and Palmeiras’ Gabriel Jesus, and there is a confidence within the club that those deals will soon be completed.
City have been haggling over Sane’s price with their Bundesliga counterparts but all parties are keen to reach an agreement and the two respective valuations are not wildly different.
The Stones saga, however, could now run on past the start of the Premier League campaign.
City were similarly insistent one year ago that they would not meet Liverpool’s demands for Raheem Sterling, nor Wolfsburg’s for Kevin De Bruyne.
The club eventually signed Sterling for £45m rising to a potential £49m depending on a number of factors, while De Bruyne was signed for £54m but only after the 2015-16 season had started.
Everton stood firm in the face of several big-money bids, which neared £40m, for Stones from Chelsea last summer.
City, though, are likely to pursue a deal through to completion given their travails in landing Guardiola’s top defensive targets so far this summer.
The Blues want two central defenders and had initially identified Athletic defender Aymeric Laporte alongside Stones.
Despite negotiations taking place between the clubs and reports that personal terms had been agreed, Laporte eventually elected to sign a new deal at San Mames.
That has forced City to look elsewhere, and with little success so far.
Guardiola is a long-term admirer of Leonardo Bonucci, but Juventus are also demanding around £50m for a player seven years older than both Laporte and Stones.