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Is this the end of the John Stones saga?

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Everton declare they will not sell Stones
Everton declare they will not sell Stones

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho challenged Everton to confirm they would not sell their defender John Stones for any price - and now the Goodison Park club have answered his call.

After weeks of rumour and counter rumour and a succession of bids from Chelsea for Stones, the Everton chairman responded with this statement on the club's website:

It appears to be the final act in a transfer saga that has dragged on throughout this summer, with Mourinho and Chelsea doing little to conceal their desire to sign the centre-back who has played just 47 Premier League games for the Toffees.

This is a bold statement by Kenwright and Everton, who were widely expected to buckle if Chelsea raised their offer for Stones to somewhere near the £40m mark.

While Kenwright has been accused of lacking ambition with his prudent financial management at Everton, this move may appease some supporters who will now be hoping this decision is backed up by new signings ahead of next Tuesday's transfer deadline.

How Stones will react to this news is open to debate, as he clearly stated his intention to move to Chelsea in recent days, with some Everton fans berating him after his side's Capital One Cup clash at Barnsley on Wednesday night.