No Chelsea joy in Stones hunt as bid rejected

Ross McLean
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REIGNING Premier League champions Chelsea could be forced to pay a British record fee for a defender in order to sign Everton’s John Stones after the Blues failed with an improved offer of £26m.

It is the second Chelsea bid for Stones to be rejected by the Toffees, who have publicly insisted that the 21-year-old is not for sale. The £30m Manchester United paid Leeds for Rio Ferdinand in 2002 is the current highest fee for a British defender.

Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez, meanwhile, opted not to exacerbate escalating tensions with Jose Mourinho after the Chelsea manager accused the Spaniard of ruining his former club Inter Milan and made jibes about his weight. Benitez’s wife, Montse, had ignited a war of words by claiming that her husband was used to clearing up his rival’s mess at clubs across Europe.

“Mourinho’s comments? I’m the Real Madrid coach. I like football, I understand football and for this reason I only speak about football,” said Benitez.

Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah is set for a medical at Roma today, while Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny yesterday joined the Serie A side on a season-long loan.

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