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Confident Everton determined to hang onto John Stones

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It's Roberto Martinez's turn to publicly charm the talented 21-year-old center back into staying.  It's a bit of a gamble to set himself and his club up in a way that could make them look great should Stones stay, but would also leave them looking foolish should Stones decide to leave.

"He is one of the most talented centre-backs in European football and we feel we have a special footballer with us. There is nothing to discuss and teams putting bids in for him doesn't mean anything. You're going to get clubs that are working with big budgets because they have been working in the Champions League, but we are a club with nine league titles. We are a big club."

"What we want is to build and what we want to do is concentrate on the future and we are not a selling club by any means. The situation with John is as you would expect. On the outside it seems turmoil and many things happening, but internally John comes in and trains and needs to try to earn his place and keep improving, keep taking responsibility in the group and nothing else."

-Roberto Martinez; source: ESPN

Should Stones go the way of Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini rather than, say, Leighton Baines, Martinez's bold words would hang pretty heavy in the air.  Not that any of that is really our concern at all; we just need to make sure we don't set the boy up for failure by placing too many expectations and too much pressure on him by way of a record transfer fee.

If there's one thing we've learned from pre-season is that our first-choice defenders certainly aren't getting any younger, faster, more agile.  Any day now, that backline will start to truly show its age.  Preparing for that event by signing the likes of Baba Rahman and John Stones seems prudent, if perhaps a bit expensive.