Everton have been something of a cautionary tale with regards to recruitment in recent times, with the Merseysiders’ often scattergun transfer approach having backfired on a number of occasions, costing the club both in a financial sense but also on the pitch.
A rare piece of astute business that the Toffees have pulled off over the last decade or so is the signing of current England star, John Stones, with the centre-back having been signed from Barnsley as a teenager back in February 2013.
That £3m deal for the then 18-year-old – who had made just 28 appearances during his time at Oakwell – has gone on to look a real bargain for the Goodison Park outfit, having sold him on for a hefty profit just a few years later.
Prior to that departure, however, the playmaking defender had caught the eye for his form under Roberto Martinez, eventually making 95 appearances in all competitions during his time at Everton.
Just two-and-a-half years into his time at the club, however, the 6 foot 2 machine had put in a transfer request in order to force a move away, with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea believed to have made an offer of around £40m for his services.
Martinez and co held firm despite that hefty interest, with that decision ultimately paying off as the youngster was subsequently moved on for a larger fee of a round £47.5m a year later, with that sale to Manchester City making him the second most expensive defender in the world at the time.
Although those funds were subsequently spent somewhat recklessly – with new boss Ronald Koeman sanctioning a £25m move for eventual flop Yannick Bolasie in that same window – it still represented impressive business to have made such a huge profit in such a short space of time.
Six years on from that exit, the “exceptional” talent – as lauded by City boss Pep Guardiola – is currently thriving at the Etihad, having overcome a “difficult” first few seasons in Manchester, in his own words, to once again become a leading figure for both club and country.
The 28-year-old only recently showcased his quality with a stunning strike in the victory over Borussia Dortmund last week in the Champions League, having also proven his versatility to feature at right-back and in the centre of midfield at his current side.
For all the glittering success he has enjoyed at the reigning Premier League champions, it was with the Toffees where the Englishman first made his name, with both Everton – and the player himself – hugely benefitting from that, albeit brief, association.