International Ace set to be Conte’s first signing at Chelsea

According to the latest reports, Antonio Conte wants to make versatile Everton defender John Stones his first signing as Chelsea manager.

The former Juventus manager will take over from Guus Hiddink at Stamford Bridge in the summer once his Euro 2016 commitments with the Italy national team are done and dusted.

Conte has already highlighted a number of potential faces to follow him to West London as the Blues look to bounce back from a disappointing title defence, which looks unlikely in ending with qualification to the Europa League, let alone the Champions League.

The likelihood of no European football will undoubtedly make it a tougher task but the wages the club can offer still makes them a tempting proposal for most players across the continent.

And as Chelsea prepare to bolster their ranks for 2016/17, it has emerged that their prime transfer target is Everton defender Stones, who they unsuccessful tried to sign on a number of occasions last year.

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The Mirror report that Chelsea have not been put off by the 21-year-old’s recent wobbly performances under Roberto Martinez and will table a fresh bid to bring to the Stamford Bridge, with the former Barnsley man seen as a long-term successor of John Terry, who looks to be on his way out.

The defending English champions will also face stiff competition from Manchester City, though, and the incoming arrival of Pep Guardiola coupled with City’s strong chance of Champions League qualification means a switch to the Etihad could be more inviting for the player.

Stones, who has completed 89% of his passes in the Premier League this season, was part of the Everton team knocked out in the semi-final of the FA Cup by Manchester United on Sunday. Everton are currently 11th in the league table.