In the summer of 2016, John Stones joined Manchester City in a deal worth £47.5 million becoming the second most expensive defender in football history on the day he signed.
At that time, the former Everton defender was tapped up to become one of the greatest English centre-backs of all time. Brilliant on the ball with a keen eye for a pass, Stones was classed as a modern-day centre-half. However, his Manchester City career has never really kicked off with Pep Guardiola hinting that this might be the England defender’s last season at the Etihad.
“I have said many times, and continue saying, I am more than delighted with John Stones as a person, as a professional, everything,” Guardiola said ahead of the game against Newcastle United.
“What I want is the best for him and at the end of the season we are going to speak about what is going to happen because sometimes my wish is not the wish of the players or the wish for the situation of the club.”Pep Guardiola on John Stones’ Manchester City future
Consistent struggles with injuries resulted in Stones’ poor form that usually saw him being dropped. He only managed 20 appearances in all competitions this season, falling out of favour and becoming only a fifth choice centre-back with even the likes of Eric Garcia ahead of him. Guardiola recently admitted that Stones’ injury problems are a real concern following another setback after the season resumed.
“Of course, what we want is, for his future and for ours, for him to come back and play and to be able to train during two, three or four months with no injuries. John has struggled with his injuries.”
“There are players who can play every three days for 11 months. Others struggle more to be fit and we try to find the key to playing every three days. This is what we want.”
Watch: Guardiola discusses John Stones in pre-match press conference before facing Newcastle United
John Stones this season
Speaking of Stones as a player, there have never been any doubts over his ability on the ball. The two-time Premier League champion has the highest pass accuracy in the league (94.8%) also performing 20.8 forward passes per game (90.6% accuracy). It is the constant lapses in concentration and poor individual errors leading to goals that have been taking a toll on his City career so far.
If Guardiola and, most importantly, Stones himself can regain the belief that was there on the day of signing, his Manchester City career can still be prolonged. A calm and assured performance against Newcastle on a Wednesday night was a solid starting point for the 26-year-old.
From now on, Stones will be facing perhaps the most important few months of his footballing career so far that will determine his future.