HIGHLY-RATED Barnsley defender John Stones has joined Premier League side Everton in a £3m move – the largest deal on a feverish day of business in the transfer window across Yorkshire’s 11 clubs.
Stones, 19, spurned a switch to Wigan Athletic after being given permission by the Reds to talk to the defender earlier in the day, to sign for David Moyes’s Toffees, penning a five-and-a-half year deal with Merseysiders.
A host of other top-flight clubs including Sunderland and Fulham were also linked with moves for the England Under-19 ace in January, with Barnsley managing director Don Rowing surprised the Reds only received firm offers from two clubs for Stones.
Admitting Stones’s departure was inevitable once top-flight interest was firmed up, Rowing said: “It is very, very difficult to hold on to a talent like John when the Premier clubs come calling.
“It is a great opportunity for the boy. I am surprised other clubs were not in, to be honest. It is their loss; he is a good player and I think it will be proven so.
“We did not really want to sell him, in so much as Barnsley want to progress themselves. But there was a carrot there for the player.
“He could see an opportunity to play at a higher level and it is very difficult to stand in their way when Premier clubs come.
“Playing in a higher division is going to turn a lad’s head.”
The departure of Stones completed a busy deadline day at Oakwell, with long-time target Chris O’Grady and veteran Stoke City utility man Rory Delap joining on loan for the rest of the season, from Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City respectively.
Also on his way out, Matty Done looked set to join SPL side Hibernian on loan for the rest of the season while defender Rob Edwards has linked up with Shrewsbury on a month’s loan.
Striker Mido and centre-half Lee Collins have had their contracts cancelled by mutual consent.
Boss David Flitcroft is also due to sign young defender Andrai Jones, released from his contract at Bury, today.
Owls boss Dave Jones says he had no qualms about letting six-goal striker O’Grady move to relegation rivals Barnsley.
On the decision, Jones said: “It is something we thought about. But if you are prepared to let someone go out then it is the one thing that you cannot be worrying about.
“Everything is a risk, at the end of the day.”
Meanwhile, Yorkshire’s top current side – Hull City – completed a significant piece of business in bringing back Ahmed Elmohamady back to the KC Stadium on loan until the end of the season.
But chief Steve Bruce missed out in his bid to sign striker DJ Campbell, who elected to join Blackburn Rovers instead.
Egyptian winger Elmohamady proved a massive hit in his initial spell with the Tigers earlier this term before being recalled by Sunderland.
Elmohamady joins compatriots Gedo and Ahmed Fathi on loan at the Tigers, with the Al Ahly duo’s deals also completed yesterday.
It was a quiet day at Huddersfield Town, with the only significant activity seeing midfielder Anton Robinson join Gillingham on loan for the rest of the season.
Middlesbrough, who enquired into the possibility of signing old boy Danny Graham ahead of his protracted move to north-east rivals Sunderland, did do one piece of business – bringing in free agent and ex-England international Kieron Dyer, 34, on a short-term deal following his recent release from QPR.
Midfielder Kevin Thomson’s contract has been cancelled by mutual consent.
League One promotion hopefuls Sheffield United have bolstered their goalscoring options after the big-money departure of Nick Blackman by bringing in Jonathan Forte for a second spell at the club – with the 26-year-old joining his hometown club from Southampton on loan for the rest of the season.
Manager Danny Wilson also sealed the signing of midfielder Barry Robson for the rest of the season, beating off higher division interest to sign him.
On Robson, Wilson – thwarted in a late move for Dundee United striker Johnny Russell – said: “He had opportunities in the Championship which he has turned down, because he fancies plying his trade here, which is fantastic.
“Although it is only a short-term contract, you never know what happens later on.
“His pedigree and experience suggests he is a Championship player and we have brought him in because we think he is going to be key for us.”
Rotherham United boss Steve Evans finalised a deal to bring in former Sheffield United forward Jordan Slew from Blackburn on a month’s loan.
The capture of Slew was Evans’s fifth piece of incoming business in a hectic month and on the outgoing front, Accrington Stanley extended the loan of Millers full-back Nicky Hunt for the rest of the season.
Bradford City failed in a beat-the-deadline to sign midfielder Jason Kennedy from Rochdale, while Ritchie Jones’s contract was cancelled by mutual consent.