Everton boss Roberto Martinez believes the club will face further battles to keep hold of John Stones but insists the defender is in the right place to continue his development.
The Toffees rejected numerous inquiries regarding the youngster from Chelsea during the summer and they even turned down a transfer request from the centre back in order to keep him at Goodison Park.
Martinez is adamant the 21-year-old is best off remaining with the Merseyside club for the foreseeable future, although he is resigned to having to fend off more interest in the player over the coming months.
Martinez said: “There is a right time and wrong time and right way and wrong way in assembling squads and our squad at this point needed John Stones to be at the football club.”
The Spaniard believes it is crucial the club keep hold of their prize assets if they want to challenge for the European positions come the end of the campaign, with the Blues currently available at 26.00 to secure a top four finish this season.
He continued: “Clearly, it’s that John is in a perfect position to be important for how we want to play now. We have very young players ready to kick on like Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and John Stones. It was about keeping that core.”
The former Wigan boss insists the England international is capable of playing at the very highest level and is convinced the youngster can become one of the greatest defenders in the country’s history.
He revealed: “I’m going to be biased but I see John Stones as potentially the best centre-back that England has ever produced.”