The centre-back favours a move to the Etihad and City are prepared to deliver the 22-year-old for new manager Pep Guardiola and will not baulk at making him Britain’s most expensive defender.

A firm bid is imminent with contact between the clubs already established and the prospect of an auction developing now seems unlikely with Stones keen to work with Guardiola.

Stones was denied a move to Chelsea last summer with  Everton rejecting a series of bids which went up to £35m.

The TV money pouring into the Premier League means his valuation has risen since then despite a difficult season at club level and his failure to play a single minute at Euro 2016 for England, and Everton are determined to hold out for £50m.

It is the same fee Paris Saint-Germain lavished on David Luiz when recruiting him from Chelsea and would comfortably outstrip the £34m Manchester United spent on Rio Ferdinand in 2002 – the current British record for a defender.

City will begin by making a lower bid, but will be mindful Everton chairman Bill Kenwright is one of the best negotiators in the business and the Merseyside club are now bolstered by new major shareholder Farhad Moshiri.

New Everton manager Ronald Koeman said he would try to persuade Stones to remain at Goodison Park, but the player’s heart is set on leaving.

It was an open secret in the England camp that Stones wanted to join Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling at City and he will hope to secure his move in the next three weeks to ensure he does not have to report back to Everton for pre-season training.

The fee would represent a massive profit for Everton, who paid Barnsley £3m for Stones in January 2013 when David Moyes was manager.



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