Chelsea target John Stones did not mean to hand in transfer request, declares Martinez
Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists that John Stones “didn’t mean” to submit a transfer request amid constant speculation linking him with a move to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. According to Sky Sports, the England International was a subject of three bids from the reigning Premier League winners, which understandably, played a big role in his decision to hand in a request that Everton chairman Bill Kenwright adamantly rejected.
Stones was in the squad for Everton’s stalemate against Tottenham on Saturday and Martinez wasted no time to praise his player’s attitude in this turbulent time.
"He's such a professional," Martinez said. "I had other situations where I had players who couldn't cope and couldn't play.
"I had windows where I had to leave players out completely and when the window closed get him back in the team and what that represents – winning his team-mates over and the fans over.
"With John, it's very easy because he's a pristine professional. Obviously he's been put under massive, massive pressure. The transfer request was something he didn't mean to do,” insists Martinez.
The former Wigan manager shrugged off the question when quizzed whether Stones had any regrets.
"No, no, no. We haven't spoken about that. All we've been speaking about is the game and what we need to do. He's been a leader in that,” he said.
Martinez praised the 21-year-old’s professionalism during this period and tipped him to become future England captain.
"[On Saturday] you saw a 21-year-old deal with that pressure and he played in that manner. For me, it shows he has potential to be England captain."
The abuse from Everton fans
There were reports of a few incidents with fans, who are understandably upset with him for handing in the transfer request. But Martinez reiterated his point that fans have forgiven him.
"He knows the fans will be with him, he knows the fans will understand what's happened," Martinez said.
"The way he has always been performing – he's always been a top professional, never letting the team down or the football club down. He is a true Evertonian."
The fans appeared to give him a good reception when he went to greet Everton’s travelling contingent after the game at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
But despite Martinez and Kenwright’s resolute stance on this subject, Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson believes that Stones will become a Chelsea player before the end of the transfer window.
“I think it should happen. And I think it still will. Even if Chelsea do miss out on him in this window, they will get him in the next one,” Merson wrote on his Daily Star column.
“They are not going anywhere. I like him as a player, and he has massive potential. Chelsea need someone like him, who can bring the ball out and dominate a game.”
With deadline day looming large, it will be an increasingly difficult job for Mourinho and Chelsea to prise their target out of Merseyside. Stones joined the Toffees from Barnsley in the January transfer window of 2013.