In 2016, Manchester City’s John Stones left Everton for just shy of £50 million. At the time, the England defender was valued as the second most expensive defender in history.
Arguably Stones struggled to live up to the high expectations of his price tag in the first four years at City. With a host of injuries meaning the central defender was mostly used as a squad player.
However, John Stones has more recently become a permanent feature in Manchester City’s backline. As City stormed to the top of the Premier League; Pep Guardiola’s newfound trust in Stones shows the defender is starting to prove his worth.
Manchester City’s John Stones in Excellent Form
John Stones Showing Consistency
Alongside Ruben Diaz, the 26-year old has shown impressive form in recent months. Ideally, Guardiola’s players are calm on the ball. City originally signed Stones for his range of passing. However, Stones has become more reliable defensively, while his frequent errors seem to be a thing of the past.
Stones defensive form has been mirrored by Manchester City. The Cityzens have not conceded in the Premier League since their 3-1 victory against Chelsea at the start of January. The back four is now settled but with the fixture congestion, we will likely see Aymeric Laporte rotated in after regaining fitness.
Oleksandr Zinchenko and Joao Cancelo are both full-backs who drift inside to support the midfield. This allows City to sustain attacks, keeping their opponents under pressure for long periods of time.
The capable defence has meant midfielders can push up to join the attack. In fact, İlkay Gündoğan has recently scored seven goals in eight games. Manchester City’s solid structure has led to an uptake of goals against Premier League opposition. These goals are coming from all over the pitch, with Stones scoring two goals against Crystal Palace.
Is this the consistency that will see City win the league title especially with their opponents dropping points; left, right and centre?
Who Is John Stones Competition for England?
While the delayed Euros are fast approaching in the summer of 2021. Gareth Southgate will no doubt be assessing his centre-back options.
Providing Southgate opts to play his favoured formation. There will be three central defenders, with two wing-backs. This is good news for Stones as the defender has not played for England since November 2019 after losing his place for City.
At the 2018 World Cup, Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker partnered Stones to make a defensive three. The Manchester United captain looks set to keep his position in the summer, while Walker’s place looks in doubt.
Southgate has an array of central defensive options. Most notably Eric Dier who has appeared consistently for Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham this season.
Tyrone Mings has enjoyed a successful season with Aston Villa. Although, an ongoing England place will be hard to come by if he continues to make mistakes.
While Conor Coady, Michael Keane, and James Tarkowski are Premier League players who have been consistent in recent seasons. It’s possible, one of these players could finish the season strongly and outbid Stones for an England place.
However, on current form Stones look certain to be starting for England at the Euros. Stones biggest concern for his chances of returning to the England team will be the risk of injury.
It will no doubt be fresh on Southgate’s mind after Harry Kane’s injury. Those not carrying injuries could influence Southgate’s selection, with the increasing threat of fixture congestion
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