Report: Guardiola wants to bring £50m-rated Everton star to the Etihad this summer

The incoming Manchester City manager has earmarked John Stones as a primary target for the upcoming transfer window.

Everton could be set for another almighty battle to hold on to England centre-back John Stones this summer, with the Independent reporting that Pep Guardiola has singled out the 21-year-old as a primary target this summer.

Guardiola takes over from Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium after the end of the season and speculation indicates that he has highlighted central defence as a key area he needs to look at improving for next season.

Vincent Kompany has managed just 19 appearances in all competitions during another campaign severely hampered by injury, Martin Demichelis will allegedly not be offered a new contract and will leave this summer, and Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala have experienced mixed success in adapting to England.

The Independent report that Stones will be one of Guardiola's first ports of call to bolster his ranks, with the player's ball-playing style from the back in keeping with the Spanish manager's philosophy.

However, the England international could cost as much as £50 million with Everton holding all the cards over his future with the defender having three years left to run on his current contract.

The Toffees have already shown they have the willpower to rebuff an approach for their talented youngster, having turned down three bids worth up to £30 million from Chelsea for the player last summer.

Although Stones has been criticised on occasion this season for failing to live up to the consistently high standard he set for himself last term, it is thought that the Merseyside club see him as an integral part of their future.

Register for EVERTON team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch