CHELSEA have pulled out the race to sign Everton defender John Stones.
The Stamford Bridge club are in the market for a top central defender to replace captain John Terry, 35, who is out of contract at the end of the season.
Chelsea submitted three offers for the England international defender last year, and he has remained a transfer target ever since.
However, incoming Blues boss Antonio Conte is understood to see his Italy centre-back – Leonardo Bonucci – as a better option, and apparently is is not convinced about Stones at all.
The Daily Star Sunday reports:
“Italy boss Conte sees Juventus’ Bonucci, 28, as good value, with the Juventus defender valued at £25m – half the fee for Stones if Everton can be persuaded to sell.
“Conte reportedly also considers Inter Milan’s Andrea Ranocchia as a good option for the Blues, as his contract at the San Siro expires at the end of the season meaning he could be available on a free transfer.”
Stones hasn’t had the best season for an Everton side that has struggled to keep clean sheets and has recently found himself on the bench, while England boss Roy Hodgson has told him he needs to ‘cut out the mistakes’.
But he’s still only 21 and has immense potential and the Toffees will struggle to hold onto him at the end of this campaign.
The news that Chelsea are no longer in the hunt will give both Manchester clubs a boost as they look to bolster their own defences, while Barcelona have also expressed an interest.
Would Bonucci be a better option than Stones for Chelsea?