John Stones is humbled to have been referred to as a future England captain by Roberto Martinez – but the Everton boss may face another fight in January to keep hold of the defender.
Everton rejected a transfer request from the 21-year-old amid interest from Chelsea, but the former Barnsley defender has responded strongly to that disappointment with some impressive performances this season.
Stones was coy when asked about that period, only saying his focus always remained on football, but was more forthcoming when asked about Martinez’s suggestion he could one day captain England captain.
“To be honest, I smile at first and probably forget about it the next day, which is a good thing, so it doesn’t play on my mind as much,” he said.
“It is so humbling to hear that, from my manager, and from a lot of peers that say it as well, and hopefully in the future it can come true.”
Stones is expected to be the subject of fresh approaches in the January transfer window, with the Daily Telegraph claiming Barcelona have joined the list of clubs monitoring his progress.
The newspaper says Stones has also moved up Manchester United’s list of targets, while both the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror claim Chelsea are preparing their latest offer for the 21-year-old.