All the latest news, views and transfer rumours from Goodison Park...
Everton face Arsenal in the FA Cup this weekend, and manager Roberto Martinez has had words of praise for young defender John Stones ahead of the big game. Stones, who arrived from Barnsley in 2013, started in Phil Jagielka's absence recently and Martinez believes he is one of the finest young English talents around.
“I know how good he is and what a special footballer he is. He is going to have an incredible career. He is one of the most significant young players we have in the English game and I have seen him grow a lot in the last few months. He is someone who takes aspects of the game on board very quickly. He is a complete centre-half and in the modern game you need to be able to play from the back and have good distribution. John has that. On top of that, he is good in the air, very comfortable in one-v-one situations and he can defend within a unit. He is as good as it gets at his age," said Martinez, who is clearly pleased with Stones' displays.
But whilst Stones' future looks set at Goodison Park, loan striker Romelu Lukaku will be heading back to Chelsea at the end of the season, leaving a huge gap in Everton's attack, but goalkeeper Tim Howard stated his belief that manager Martinez will be able to replace the Belgian international when the time comes.
"The one thing with all good managers that Roberto Martinez shares is that he has a belief in his own ideas and his ability," Howard told talkSPORT. "If Big Rom has to go, or Nikica Jelavic has to be replaced, I think he believes in his ability to recruit players, so I don't worry about that."
One player who could be brought to the club is Valencia forward Carles Gil. The young Spaniard is currently on loan at Elche, but his impressive displays have attracted the interest of his compatriot Martinez, and the former Wigan boss could look to make another raid on La Liga by bringing him to Merseyside. There is a reported £6.5m release clause in his contract, which appears to be within budget for Martinez, but may need some convincing as he sees his future with Valencia.
image: © NathanF