Everton will reject John Stones’ transfer request, with manager Roberto Martinez declaring the central defender is “a vital part” of the club’s future.
Martinez hailed Stones’ professionalism as the 21-year-old overcame ongoing speculation to help his team advance in the League Cup on Wednesday – Everton coming from two goals down at half-time to defeat Barnsley 5-3 in extra time.
Speaking after the second-round match, Martinez confirmed Stones had submitted a transfer request, but claimed Everton have no interest in accepting it and will reject it on Thursday.
“Today was a match day, the game was more important,” said the Spaniard.
A former Barnsley youth product – Stones played his fourth straight match alongside Everton captain Phil Jagielka in central defence to begin this season.
Chelsea are reportedly Stones’ main suitors, although Manchester City are also thought to be interested.
“I thought he [Stones] was incredible,” Martinez told Sky Sports.
“He came through Barnsley ranks and it shows what a terrific job they do here.
“We need to protect players during this transfer window; he was a real example of how to perform under pressure.
“Our fans know that all we are doing is to try to become better and John is a massive part of that. We have a clear idea of life and in football and John is a vital part of our future.”
Martinez also reserved praise for Barnsley, who led 2-0 at the interval through goals from Sam Winnall and Marley Watkins, and took the lead again at 3-2 thanks to Dan Crowley on the hour mark.
But the League One club could not hold on for a famous victory, with Romelu Lukaku notching an equaliser with 12 minutes remaining, before scoring in extra time to round off Everton’s victory, following Marc Roberts’ own goal.
“I thought first and foremost Barnsley were superb. They scored goals, they were dynamic, they were fantastic,” Martinez said.
“In the first half we were a little bit slow. From that point on it became I really open game, a fantastic game to watch.”
On Everton’s comeback, Martinez added: “It was more about the attitude, the experienced players more than anyone. We knew that first half performance wasn’t acceptable for our standards.”
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