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John Stones will become world-class despite the doubts

Wednesday 16th November 2016
John Stones has had a lot of attention surrounding him recently. On the one side, the verdict is that Stones is another over-hyped English player, but the opposing view is that he's on his way to becoming an exceptional centre-back. The second opinion holds the most truth: Stones will soon be world-class.

John Stones had his first big breakthrough when he moved to Everton in January 2013. He was a promising young talent, which he displayed at Goodison Park by winning the Young Player of the Season award. Although Stones made some defensive mistakes, it didn't deter Manchester City from signing him this summer. Stones has had an indifferent start to his Man City career: As well as making some costly errors, the 22-year-old has also shown signs of developing into an outstanding player. Under Pep Guardiola's guidance, Stones' future is in secure hands.
Since the beginning of the season, Stones has become an integral player for both club and country. He has 15 caps for England, which includes starting in the previous four games under interim manager Gareth Southgate. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Southgate - who was an accomplished central defender himself, had this to say regarding Stones: 'I remember playing Germany in Euro 96 and everyone was talking about Matthias Sammer and saying, "Where's our one like that?" 'John Stones is that type of defender. In my mind you have to encourage him to play or we'll keep watching (Gerard) Pique and asking, "Why can't we get those players in?"

Guardiola has also placed his trust in Stones. Man City spent £50 million to sign the young English defender; Stones is viewed by Guardiola as being the type of player that can implement his philosophy of playing out from the back and keeping possession. The Man City boss told the Telegraph: ‘Normally, a central defender is a big guy who plays with the head and marks man-to-man and is strong in the air. But now it's the added plus of the quality of his play. John has similarities to Ronald (Koeman), especially in terms of mentality. John is a guy who wants to play under pressure. Normally, the players who like to play the ball, handle the pressure better than the other ones.'

Guardiola and Southgate both rate their centre-back highly: Comparisons to Matthias Sammer and Ronald Koeman is high praise, but what makes Stones special? Although Stone's defensive capabilities are sometimes called into question, he's good in the air, excellent at blocking shots, decent at tackling, and he has the strength to compete physically. However, his main appeal is the technical side of his game, which is superior to the large majority of defenders. Stones has a rare ability as a centre-back: his passing is superb, he's capable of dribbling the ball out from the back, and setting up attacks from deep; he possesses all the attributes to succeed at the highest level.
If English football wants to progress, centre backs who are comfortable on the ball have to be produced. England now have Stones and he needs encouragement to continue playing his style of football, as it will benefit England and Man City in the long-term. Finding the balance between being brave on the ball without being over-elaborate will take time, but working alongside Guardiola gives Stones the best chance possible of developing his game.

Stones can't be mentioned in the same category as the likes of Gerard Pique, Thiago Silva, and Mats Hummels; However, if he perseveres and works hard to cut out the needless mistakes, he stands a great chance of reaching that level. Stones is high risk at times and he makes mistakes, but the potential rewards are worth that risk. As a central defender, Stones is uniquely gifted; if he's to reach the heights that he's capable of, his bravery on the ball must stay intact. Given more time to gain valuable experience, Stones could be the centre back that Man City and England craves.
Danny Glendenning

Passions include reading, sport, and nights out with friends. A football fanatic whose writing career began in May 2016. Now 30 years old, lives in South Yorkshire - local team is Doncaster Rovers, although heart lies with Arsenal. Contributing editor for It's Round And It's White. Current claim to fame is an interview with Ron Atkinson. Always looking for work, either editing or writing. Contact via email: Dannysg1988@outlook.com. Or Twitter: @DannySG1988.



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