Elite takeover continues as John Stones asks for move
After threatening to confirm his intention to leave Everton for the last few weeks, John Stones has finally done the deed and handed in a transfer request.
Leaks in the media over the last week confirmed that Stones was ready to complete this final act in his bid to secure a move to Chelsea and now it appears to be a matter of time before the 21-year-old makes his move to join the Premier League champions.
Everton have made it clear for the last few weeks that the player could be sold if the price is right - and that is believed to be around £40m - yet they may now be forced to accept a reduced fee to cash on on their 21-year-old defender.
Imagine a club paying £40m for a player who has played 47 Premier League games? It's clearly crazy money, but when money is no objective in the rush to glory, common sense tends to be thrown out of the window.
"I like Stones and he is going to be a top player, but they money they are talking about is just ridiculous," former Liverpool striker John Aldridge told sundayworld.com.
"I'm sure he will end up at Chelsea or wherever he wants to go and it will mean another club losing one of their best player to one of the big four. It's making it harder for the rest to compete as this continues to happen."
Stones will argue that this is his once in a lifetime opportunity to join up with the Premier League champions and suggestions from the Chelsea camp that he will get first team chances this season has fuelled his ambition and yet this is another example of competition in the English top flight being systematically diluted by the mega-rich elite.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and his old foe Arsene Wenger often claim that the Premier League is the best in Europe due to its competitive edge, but that theory will be undermined once again when Stones makes his move to Stamford Bridge.
Essentially, the two Manchester clubs and the London duo of Chelsea and Arsenal are on a mission to turn the richest domestic championship in world football into a 16-team league of also-rans, as they continue to pick off the best of the talent from the 'paupers' below them.
Manchester City's move to pluck Raheem Sterling from Liverpool for a hugely inflated £49m and Manchester United's more shrewdly priced £24m signing of Morgan Schneiderlin (above) from Southampton are two moves from this summer's transfer scramble that back up the theory that the teams at the top simply have too much pulling power for any player to resist.
Finances are clearly playing a part here as the top four can pay bigger wages than the rest and it all adds up to this inevitable scenario; when Chelsea, Arsenal, City or United want a player from a lesser Premier League rival, they are certain to get him.
While this trend is nothing new, the increasing power of the elite quartet suggests that the battle for prized Champions League places looks set to be contented between four teams for the foreseeable future.
Is the Premier League still the most competitive in Europe? The big four are doing all they can to ensure that is no longer the case.