Manchester City have opened talks with Everton over a deal for John Stones, according to reports.
With Vincent Kompany set to miss the start of the season through injury, Martin Demichelis having been released, and neither Nicolas Otamendi or Eliaquim Mangala managing to fully convince in the Premier League, City are in the market for a new centre-back.
Leonardo Bonucci – who featured in our top five defensive targets – had been mooted, but it now appears City manager Pep Guardiola has set his sights on England international Stones.
The 22-year-old is expected to cost around £50million and it is understood the two clubs are not far apart in their valuations.
Stones’ comfort on the ball and willingness to play out from the back – which has often attracted criticism – is likely to fit Guardiola’s philosophy.
“Normally central defenders are strong in the air and aggressive,” said Guardiola on Wednesday.
“But we need to have a good build-up to create easy passes in the midfield so they can create good passes for the strikers.
“I believe when the ball goes from the central defender to the striker as quickly as possible, it comes as quickly as possible back.
“That is why the players in that area need quality. By 31 August we will have the right squad to play how we want.”
Guardiola, meanwhile, has also suggested he could use midfielder Fernandinho in defence .