On Thursday, Everton manager Roberto Martinez confirmed that Chelsea's interest in 21-year old John Stones has affected the player's preparation for the upcoming Premier League season. When asked specifically if the Blues' interest had turned Stones' head, he confirmed that it's been something that's had an effect:
"Yes. That's something that you hope you learn from, and become more mature. Those are good experiences."
"John is one of the outstanding young talents that we have in the squad, and you're going to get that sort of attraction and interest from the outside. Everything been handled in a good manner. It's a positive when you have a young talent doing well in important roles. It makes a big difference."
"Every squad has good young talent. It's a question of whether that talent have big roles in the team. As you've seen, young players such as Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and John Stones have very important roles."
"Throughout the season, you're going to get that interest, but all we are focused on is Watford. John is an Everton player and there's nothing else to comment on."
While Martinez seems convinced that Stones will be focused on the weekend, his adamant stance that the player won't be sold seems to have softened a bit recently, as evidenced by his answer when asked about a potential Chelsea bid that Everton would have a hard time refusing:
"You shouldn't worry about situations you cannot control. As I've said from the beginning, we were not a club who are trying actively sell players."
It does sound as if Martinez has accepted that his club would probably allow Stones to leave for enough money, despite the increased television revenues giving them the ability to keep the player. That's probably good news if Chelsea are convinced that the player is a long-term answer next to Kurt Zouma, and for fans who want the Blues to have an 'English spine'.