Manchester City have finally completed the signing of John Stones from Everton, paying the Goodison club an initial £47.5 million (€56 million) to make the 22-year-old the second most expensive defender in history after David Luiz.
The conclusion to a transfer saga that has been running all summer was effectively leaked by Uefa when it published the squad City had submitted for next week’s Champions League qualifying round game against Steaua Bucharest.
The Everton centre-half’s name was not only on the list, he had even been given 24 as a shirt number. Everton appeared to have been caught on the hop, though by that time Stones was already in Manchester and City could confirm the signing a couple of hours later.
The England international, who was wanted by José Mourinho at Chelsea this time last year, has signed a six-year deal, and although Everton put up a fight to keep him last summer they have long been resigned to the inevitable.
Everton can at least console themselves with the huge profit they are making on a player David Moyes signed from Barnsley three years ago for about €3.5 million. A sell-on clause means that Barnsley, who sold Stones to Everton in 2013, will get more than €8 million from the deal.
Everton are now expected to complete the signing of Ashley Williams from Swansea, and are also pursuing an interest in Sunderland's Lamine Kone.
Stones becomes the eighth player to join Manchester City this summer, and in terms of high-profile signings with immediate first-team prospects, the first defender.
“I am absolutely delighted to sign for City and now the deal is done I’m looking forward to the next stage in my career,” he said.
“I’ve obviously seen what’s going on at the Etihad. It’s an ambitious club with a great manager, so I can’t wait to get stuck in and help them achieve their goals.
“I know it will be tough getting a place in this team, but I’m determined to become the best player I can be and help us to success. I had a wonderful time at Everton and I wish them and their fans all the best, but now I’ll give my all for City.”
Pep Guardiola said he was pleased to finally complete the deal, having been keen to sign a ball-playing centre-back.
“We want to help John show his quality with us and improve on what he has already achieved,” the new Manchester City manager said. “I like the way he plays the game and I’m looking forward to welcoming him into the squad.”
Meanwhile, Swansea sources believe a fee of in excess of £10 million (€11.7 million) has been agreed with Everton for Williams, who is understood to be on his way to Merseyside for a medical.
At 31, the Wales captain is hardly a like-for-like replacement for Stones, though he has been performing at his peak for the past few seasons and would bring a wealth of experience and authority to an Everton back line that, on last season’s showing under Roberto Martinez, is badly needs it.
– Guardian Service