Barnsley look set to pocket a hefty £5.25 million windfall if former player John Stones signs for Chelsea.
Homegrown star Stones effectively ended his hopes of an emotional return to Oakwell tonight by handing in a transfer request yesterday to force a dream move from Everton to the champions. Chelsea are understood to have already had three bids - £20m, £26m and £30m – rejected by the Toffees.
A fourth and improved bid of £35m is expected before the transfer window shuts next Tuesday, although Manchester United may still be in the race to sign the player. We understands Barnsley would get a 15% sell-on cut of any signing fee.
It is understood 21-year-old England international Stones has submitted a formal transfer request after a hardline stance by Everton not to sell him.
Stones was set to play for Everton this evening as they look to avoid a cup upset at the hands of the League One Reds.
But there seems little chance of the Penistone-raised centre-back featuring now.
Stones famously left the Reds in January 2013 for a reported £3m move to the Toffees, although a fee of £1.25m is believed to be the correct fee paid by then boss David Moyes.
Few could have predicted how quickly the talented defender would rise rapidly through the ranks. At Barnsley he played just 26 games before a move to the Premier League beckoned and 18 months he penned a five-year contract with the Toffees for around £30,000 a week.
International football with England has been achieved and now a move to Chelsea – and a rumoured £100,000 a week wage – shows how far Stones has come.
However, Reds boss Lee Johnson was quick to play down how much money alters his blueprint for success in South Yorkshire.
“It doesn’t alter our plan if John Stones get sold or not,” said Johnson. “We’re looking for that evolution in our playing style.
“We’re changing the identity and the ethos of the club – and that will continue whatever happens. I don’t want to be energy-sapped by the thought process of what two other clubs might be doing. It’s important I give all my concentration and energy to the players that we’ve got and moving this club forward whatever happens with John Stones.
“He’s a fantastic player and a lad. He’s held in very high regard by everyone I speak to at Barnsley. I’m sure the two clubs, his advisor, himself and his family will come to the right decision for him.
“John is getting to that stage in his career where he’s almost getting world class. If the reported figures are true, well it’s no surprise because he’s a top player. He’ll have a great international career as well. It’s nice the people of Barnsley have one of their own doing well.”
On the pitch Johnson has called for his players to be “brave” and to embrace the chance to shock the Toffees in the Capital Cup second round, especially with his team on an encouraging four-game unbeaten run.
“We’re at home and there’s been many a shock in cup football. We hope we can pull one off,” offered Johnson.
“The lads are up for it and they’re ready. There’s no doubt they’ll get the buzz of playing in front of the live TV cameras.
“You have to make an honest assessment on Everton’s quality, that’s why they’re in the Premier League.
“But to be fair we have some really good footballers. If we use our attributes, which is getting on the ball and passing the ball, then it doesn’t really matter who we play.
“The key is not to give the ball away and not be sloppy. If you’re sloppy then Premier League opposition will kill you.”
Barnsley have not beaten Everton in their last seven meetings.
Their last showdown was a 2-2 draw in the Premier League in February 1998 at Oakwell.
However the club’s last triumph was all way back in December 1951 with a 1-0 victory.
So a win tonight would see the Reds re-write the history books with their first victory over the Toffees for approaching 64 years.