Chelsea identify Jose Mourinho-admired player who they want to make Antonio Conte’s first signing

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Chelsea want to make Everton defender John Stones the first signing of Antonio Conte’s reign but know that they could face stern competition, according to The Mirror.

The Mirror reports that the Blues had a £37m offer for the youngster rejected when Jose Mourinho was in charge last summer and will make another attempt to sign him.

But The Mirror understands that any team managed by Mourinho next season, as well as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, will also be in the hunt for 21-year-old Stones.

Guardiola, Mourinho and Conte are all seemingly undeterred by Stones’s struggles for Everton this term and are convinced he can be moulded into a top-class centre-back.

The England international has been criticised for his lack of defensive nous this season, with the Toffees having conceded the fifth most goals in the 2015-16 Premier League.

Stones’s troubles may have started with the furore over his future. He handed in a transfer request to force through a move to Chelsea, but Everton would not crumble.

According to The Mirror, the Merseyside club have had no luck persuading Stones to sign a new contract, and therefore might be more willing to sell him in the next window.

Conte will take charge of Chelsea after managing Italy at Euro 2016, and defence is seemingly his first priority as he aims to rebuild the fallen Premier League champions.

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