It's often tough to figure out what's real, what's fake, and what's sort of in-between when it comes to transfer rumors and the market in general, but if there's one thing that's one hundred percent certain in the John Stones saga, it's that Everton have backed themselves into a corner. By flat out refusing to sell the 21-year-old over and over and over and over again, banking on playing the good guy in a good vs. evil battle, and banking even more on Stones himself wanting to stay, they have left themselves with no viable outs.
Here's Everton director Jon Woods, for example, from the weekend's 2-0 defeat to Manchester City remaining adamant that neither he nor Bill Kenwright will authorize a sale.
Or here's our bestest friend Roberto Martinez ahead of Everton's League Cup match against Barnsley (from whom, incidentally, they signed John Stones two years ago — where was all the outrage then?!).
"There is nothing to comment on that. Once more, it is always the same question and always the same answer. The only thing that matters now is the game we have in front of us. There is nothing to announce or discuss."
"I know it is your job to keep asking the same question and unfortunately it is my job in this case to always give you the same answer."
-Roberto Martinez; source: BT Sport
Assuming that Stones did actually hand in an official transfer request yesterday (as rumored), meaning that he does in fact want to leave, Martinez's situation is about to go from bad to worse. If he and the Everton board make Stones stay against his will, the manager's got a presumably unhappy yet still very much key player to deal with. He might be able to resolve a situation with future promises or some other verbal or financial magic, but at the very least, it will be a distraction for a good while.
On the other hand, if Everton do end up selling to Chelsea (or Manchester United), all the promises, all the talk this summer will have been for nought. Sure, they could claim the moral high-ground and (continue to) play the victim, but nobody cares about that once the dust settles.
Either way, sucks to be them. Oh well!