Manchester United have reportedly been handed a boost in their pursuit of England international John Stones, according to the Daily Star.
The 13-time Premier League champions, who currently sit sixth in the English top-flight standings, despite defeating arch-rivals Manchester City 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium last weekend, have been linked with a summer move for Everton’s highly-rated centre-half.
The 21-year-old, who has seven international caps for the Three Lions and could feature for England at Euro 2016 later this year, has made 31 appearances in all competitions for the Toffees so far this season.
Stones, who arrived at Goodison Park from League One side Barnsley back in January 2013 in a deal worth up to £3m, has also been the subject of three failed bids from Premier League rivals Chelsea last summer.
However the report suggests that the Blues are set to move onto alternative targets once the current 2015-16 campaign has concluded, allowing United to fight it out with fellow rivals City and La Liga giants FC Barcelona for the defender’s services instead.