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 By Mike Whalley

Everton sign Mason Holgate from Barnsley on five-year contract

Everton have won the race to sign highly rated Barnsley defender Mason Holgate for a fee in the region of £2 million, but rejected comparisons with Chelsea target John Stones.

Holgate, 18, attracted the interest of a number of clubs after breaking into the Barnsley side last season, but Everton jumped in front of Manchester United and Bournemouth to seal his signature. He has signed a five-year contract, keeping him at Goodison Park until the summer of 2020.

He made 22 appearances for the League One club in 2014-15 and has been likened to the in-demand John Stones, who also joined Everton from Barnsley in January 2013.

Toffees boss Roberto Martinez believes that Holgate, who can play at right-back or in central defence, can become part of a "golden generation" of young players at Everton, but played down comparisons between the teenager defender and John Stones.

Martinez told the club's official website: "With Mason, an opportunity came up and we didn't want to lose out. He is a young man with a very impressive future.

"His development is going to be important and it will be interesting to see how quickly he can have an impact on the first-team. But he is not a player who I would expect to perform straightaway in the Premier League - that would be very unfair.

"Mason, already at 18, has played 20 games in League One, which shows his incredible potential.

"I feel that we are the perfect place in order for Mason to develop into a top footballer. I know that he is a player who can bring us something quite unique, so we are excited about that possibility, even though he is one for the future rather than now."

Martinez added on comparisons between Stone and Holgate: "They've very, very different. Mason is a completely different type of player to John. What I would say is that in terms of the personality, the character and the focus they have, they're very similar.

"They are both very clear in what they want to achieve. They are leaders. That's probably the only comparison you could make."

Mason Holgate is tipped for big things by Everton boss Roberto Martinez.

Stones is set to be a key player for Everton as they visit Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.

The 21-year-old was picked out by Martinez as one of his side's better performers when they struggled to a 2-2 draw at home to promoted Watford on Saturday.

Chelsea continue to be interested in Stones, who has won four England caps, but Everton's manager insists there is no chance of a deal.

Martinez said: "He's a huge player for us. We're really looking forward to seeing the best of John over the next few seasons, not just the next few weeks.

"I'll never be upset about people asking about our players. Those are compliments; it means the players are performing well -- but nothing else. I've said before; the player's not for sale and that's the end of it."

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