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Chelsea edge closer to £30m signing as replacement for Man United target is identified

Everton have identified AC Milan‘s Cristian Zapata as a replacement for Chelsea target John Stones, according to ESPN.

28-year-old San Siro star Zapata is a hugely experienced defender who has found himself falling down the AC Milan pecking order in recent times. He is a player who could provide Roberto Martinez a strong defensive option.

Chelsea have failed with two previous bids for Everton defender John Stones but are closing in on the England man, with a £30m offer set to be made imminently (via Goal.com).

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Manchester United are also known to hold an interest in Stones (via The Daily Mirror), who moved to Goodison Park in a £3m deal from Barnsley two and a half years ago (via BBC Sport).

Stones started Everton’s opening fixture of the Premier League season, a disappointing 2-2 home draw with newly promoted Watford, but there is no doubting the versatile defender’s quality.

He has matured into an excellent prospect over the course of the past two seasons and is now a regular in Roy Hodgson’s England national team set-up.

Should Zapata be signed, Martinez may be more willing to consider Stones’s departure for, as things stand, the Toffees are particularly light in the heart of the defence, and would struggle to compensate for the young stopper should he depart now.

Jose Mourinho saw his Chelsea side also start the season with a 2-2 home draw and will be aware that his two first-choice central defenders, John Terry and Gary Cahill, at 34 and 29 years of age respectively, are both either in or heading towards the latter stages of their careers. A move for a youthful addition to boost his ranks would be a sensible option to consider.

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