Everton vs Chelsea: The battle to keep John Stones is not over, says Roberto Martinez

John Stones remains a key player for Everton after being denied a move to Chelsea this summer

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Roberto Martinez has conceded that though Everton won their battle with Chelsea over the future of John Stones they may lose the war.

Everton’s success in holding on to a player they regard as probably the best English central defender since Bobby Moore was one of the triumphs of the last transfer window. But manager Martinez said he recognised that as soon next summer’s window opens the battle will resume.

There are many reasons why Stones will line up at home against Chelsea this afternoon despite submitting a transfer request. Unlike Raheem Sterling at Liverpool, the 21-year-old was not prepared to play hardball by threatening to go on strike. Unlike Manchester City with Sterling, Chelsea made their offers relatively late in the window and their bids of around £30m were insufficiently compelling for a club carrying no significant debt. However, Martinez is not naïve enough to believe they will not come calling again.

“There are right times and wrong times to lose a player and at this moment John Stones is paramount in everything we do,” Martinez said. “All I am interested in is what Everton needs in this campaign. From that point of view, we will have to make another decision on what we need to be better going into next season. It goes from project to project,

“We are not making a decision to delay it for another window. You don’t do that, you make a decision on what you need now. Can we replace a player now? Can we get a stronger squad by losing a player now? John is important for how we want to play now.”

Martinez had been stung by Chelsea before and was determined not to be stung again. When he was in charge at Wigan Athletic, he lost Victor Moses on the final day of the transfer window. “We played Chelsea in the first game of the season and their fans were singing to Victor, ‘We’ll see you next week’,” he said. “They got it wrong; it was two weeks. I had the same situation with Charles N’Zogbia [who was wanted by Aston Villa] the year before and what I did was that I signed Moses and put him underneath. That meant when we sold N’Zogbia we had Moses.

“With Victor it was a bit different. I think we ended up with Shaun Maloney [as a replacement] but we had to change the shape.”