Roberto Martinez has praised the manner in which John Stones is developing as a leader.

Martinez: “He is an important player, he is our number five and to be number five at a club like Everton is quite significant at such a young age.

“And it’s not just the way he is developing as a defender, but the way he is developing as a leader. He’s someone who can affect the players around him”

Martinez also thinks transfer speculation has helped Stones develop.

“One hundred per cent, everything that went on in the summer helped John grow as a person and a player

“You need to understand the human side of a footballer gets heavily tested in a period like that. You get a lot of influences and some influences were wrong from the outside and they affect you.

“We have seen in many dressing rooms how players get affected and disturbed. I think that John from day one had a really good supportive group of people, especially the players in the dressing room and everyone at the football club to help him.

“It has been a very important period for his development. Psychologically he has become a man in a very short period of time and a footballer who knows how to cope with high-pressure situations and be able to perform on the pitch.

On the defender’s long-term future, Martinez added: “We have a really good relationship with John’s people because they have got another six players in the first-team squad. It’s not an issue.

“He is still on a long-term contract and nothing has changed. Any player who performs well in the first team, we are a football club that wants to reward that good work on the pitch and that will never change.”

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