Chelsea handed boost in pursuit of highly-rated £30m Premier League star, as Everton draw up list of replacements

Chelsea‘s pursuit of John Stones has been given a huge boost following reports in Mail Sport that Premier League rivals Everton have identified a potential replacement.

The highly-rated England defender has been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge all summer, and the Blues have already seen two bids rejected for the youngster. A third is expected before the transfer window closes next month [via Mirror Sport].

Toffees boss Roberto Martinez has been adamant in the media that Stones is not for sale [via Guardian Sport], however, the Spaniard is reportedly planning for the possibility that the 21-year-old does depart Goodison Park this summer and has earmarked AC Milan defender Cristian Zapata to fill the potential void.

The Colombian international found first team opportunities with the Serie A giants limited last season as he made just 12 appearances in the league and was sidelined for a month after sustaining a foot injury during the game against Sassuolo back in January [via Sky Sports].

It’s understood that the 28-year-old could be available at the right price and he would add a host of experience to the Merseyside outfit’s defence, which will be without the services of left-back Leighton Baines for at least three months after he underwent ankle surgery during the week [via BBC Sport].

Should Everton not bring in another central defender, it’s hard to see Roberto Martinez agreeing to let Stones leave. However, Zapata’s arrival might tempt the Spanish coach to cash in on the England man.

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The saga involving Stones and the reigning Premier League champions could rumble on right up until deadline day as the Toffees are desperate to keep hold of the defender, who is regarded in some quarters as the long-term successor for Blues skipper John Terry [Standard].  The centre-back could have a vital role to play for the Three Lions at next summer’s European Championships in France.

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