Barcelona’s backroom team, headed up by coach Luis Enrique, are intent on strengthening this summer, and high on their list of priorities is the addition of new defenders to their squad, although players will have to leave first.
The Azulgranas are running the rule over a number of targets and, in addition to their interest in Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi, reported by AS a few weeks ago, sporting director Robert Fernández is also mulling over another option in John Stones, having asked the club to step up its monitoring of the Everton man.
The 21-year-old is among Europe’s most promising young players, and Barcelona have been impressed by his ability on the ball, his strength in the tackle and the threat he poses when he goes forward at dead-ball situations.
Barça have been looking at Stones closely since the start of the season and, with increasingly glowing reports being sent back to the Camp Nou, the club are exploring their options for negotiating a deal with Everton, a side they have enjoyed good relations with since doing business over academy graduate Gerard Deulofeu.
One man who may end up having a big hand in the defender's potential arrival in the Ciudad Condal is Toffees manager Roberto Martínez. Stones, who the summer before last signed a contract lasting until 2018, is aware that he’s being tracked by Chelsea and Manchester United; if he does depart, however, his boss would rather avoid strengthening a domestic rival.
With Barcelona in no doubt about Stones’ future potential, club scouts are in regular attendance at Everton matches. Although the England centre-half is not the only name on their wishlist, it seems clear that the chief investment in the close season will come in his position.