LONDON • Manchester City are reluctant to match Everton's £50 million (S$88.55 million) valuation of John Stones, with their preferred price being around £40 million, plus potential add-ons.
City have had this bid rejected but their sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, does not want to go higher.
Stones has told Everton he wishes to leave but, given the club's refusal to budge from their desired price, the 22-year-old is in a similar position to last summer. Then, Chelsea wanted to buy him but the central defender was not sold as the London club would not raise their offer to meet Everton's valuation.
Despite City's stance, talks are ongoing and Pep Guardiola needs to sign a high-class centre-back because there is concern over Vincent Kompany's long-term fitness.
Guardiola wants Stones for his ability to start the play from defence and if the England international is acquired, City may drop their interest in Leonardo Bonucci, 29, the Juventus centre-back.
City are expected to announce a one-year contract extension for Sergio Aguero before their Premier League season opener at home to Sunderland on Aug 13. It is thought the 28-year-old has agreed the terms on a deal to 2020.
City may also offer Fernandinho a new deal. The 31-year-old Brazilian has two years remaining on his contract and has impressed Guardiola since the 45-year-old took over on July 1.
He was among City's better performers in last season's disappointing campaign and on Wednesday, Guardiola described him as a "quick, aggressive and intelligent" player who is capable of playing in 10 positions, including centre-back.
Meanwhile, Everton are close to completing the signing of the Aston Villa midfielder Idrissa Gueye, according to the Championship club's manager, Roberto di Matteo.
He said Everton had activated Gueye's £7.1 million release clause, which expires at the end of the transfer window.
"It's public Everton have triggered his clause and he's going to leave," Di Matteo said. "There's no news so far but the expectation is, once personal terms are agreed and a medical check-up is done, he's going to go."
Gueye could become Everton's first major signing of the summer after they appointed the former Leicester City assistant manager Steve Walsh, who helped find Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante, as director of football.
THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON