Manchester United poised to hijack Chelsea’s pursuit of £33m-rated defender

Manchester United are ready to pip rivals Chelsea to the signing of highly-rated defender John Stones by offering Phil Jones in exchange.

The Everton youngster looks set to depart the club within the next week after submitting a transfer request on Tuesday afternoon [via BBC Sport] and has been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge all summer.

The Blues have already seen three offers rejected by the Toffees [via Sky Sports], who are desperate to keep hold of the 21-year-old, but a fourth and final bid is expected to be launched before the transfer window closes on September 1 [via Telegraph Sport].

However, the West London outfit are set to face strong competition from the Red Devils as they too are reportedly in the race for the England international.

Manager Louis van Gaal has been linked with a host of new central defenders since the start of the summer, but has not been able to land any of his targets and has been forced to field Daley Blind out of position at the heart of the defence in the club’s opening games of the new season.

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos had been tipped for a shock move to Old Trafford earlier in the transfer window [via Guardian Sport], but he opted to sign a contract extension at the Santiago Bernabeu [via Real] and another reported target Nicolas Otamendi [Graham Hunter via the Metro] made the switch to Manchester, however, he will represent the Blue half this year [via the club’s official website].

In a bid to bolster his defensive options, van Gaal has switched his attentions to Stones and is willing to offer Jones as makeweight to land the £33million-rated centre-half, according to ESPN.

Jones is yet to figure for the Red Devils this season after picking up an injury and his place in the team would come under threat if Stones arrives. It remains to be seen whether the former Blackburn Rovers man would be tempted by a switch to Goodison Park.

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