Recent reports from Manchester suggest that City are unwilling to fork out the estimated value Everton have suggested Stones is worth. The £50 million price tag would not only see him become the most expensive Englishman, but also the most expensive defender in world football history.
Yet, Stones is worth this fee. At the age of 22, he is incredibly young and possesses bags of potential. This is not to say he is the final product. He experienced a turbulent defensive year at Everton, where the side leaked 55 goals in the Premier, in which Stones played 33 games – a poor ratio for a defender with such a high transfer demand. However, he was not helped by a lack of protection in front of the back four offered by a distinctly average midfield at Everton. Stones & co. were inadequately guarded, coupled with a manager in Martinez who was as defensively confused as Big Sam would be in a vegan snack shop.
I will stress, this is not suggesting Stones was not at fault last season. For example, he made some terrible mistakes such as gifting Man City a Wembley day trip, leaving Sergio Aguero free in the box to send City to the Capital One Cup Final. This poor level of concentration cost him more than once last season, but is something that could be drastically improved by the meticulous and hardworking Guardiola.
Moving away from what he could learn from Pep, Stones has a natural footballing ability that would make him the perfect fit for a Guardiola centre-half. Pep utilised Javier Mascherano and Javi Martinez at Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively as centre halves due to their midfield instincts in keeping composed, and building play from the back. One only has to look as far as Jamie Carragher in agreeing that Stones has this footballing brain and the ability to replicate these two top players.
“So many things impress me about the Everton central defender; his shape, his elegance and his unflappable temperament”
Aside from his technical ability, he is also English, which undoubtedly adds significant value to his fee. This is perfectly understood when looking back to the fee paid for Sterling a year prior to this. Clubs overcharge for English talent, particularly exciting future prospects, and thus there is no surprise such a fee is being demanded. Again, Andy Carroll springs to mind in 2011 – do we need to go further? Adding to this, the extortionate TV rights means every player is being bought for inflated prices, particularly in this transfer window, making Stones’ demanded fee even more understandable.
Reports coming in that Man City have bid £50m + Sterling for John Stones. Everton are holding out for just the £50m! pic.twitter.com/8uvqJFfyLe
— boohooMAN (@boohooMAN) July 28, 2016
Looking at other City options, the reliability of Kompany’s fitness is sadly a case which will never be solved, whilst Eliaquim Mangala does not hold the consistency to be a title-winning centre-half. The trust in the Frenchman was evident in Didier Deschamp’s reluctance to play him in at Euro 2016, despite a severely injury-hit French back four. Therefore, there is a real gap missing to play alongside Nicolás Otamendi, creating further need for City to sign a hugely talented centre-back regardless of the extortionate fee which seems to becoming the sad reality in football today.