Manchester City have one of the best backlines in the Premier League, with the likes of Kyle Walker, Ruben Diaz, Aymeric Laporte, and Joao Cancelo being almost impossible to breach at times. The Skyblues have conceded a mere 14 goals in their 23 league fixtures.
There are rumors that Spanish heavyweights Barcelona are interested in signing their centre-back, Aymeric Laporte. Barcelona recently completed the signing of versatile attacker Ferran Torres, signing him in a big-money deal, and are now considering a move for Laporte in the summer to strengthen their central-defensive options. Laporte, who joined City from Athletic Bilbao in 2018, was heavily linked with an exit from the Etihad Stadium last summer, with his opportunities significantly decreasing. However, he has forced his way back into Pep Guardiola’s plans this season and has established a strong partnership with Ruben Dias in the heart of the defense.
Having established himself as a key individual in recent weeks, City will be reluctant to lose the Spain international, despite John Stones offering alternative options at centre-back. But in the event of Barcelona lodging a concrete offer for Laporte, City will want to think of all possible situations and analyze which player will be best suitable to play as their second centre-back with Ruben Dias.
John Stones’ career at Manchester City has been full of ups and downs. After a massive move from Everton with his £47.5 million price tag, he never quite established himself as one of the world’s best. During the 2017-18 Centurion season, Stones was excellent and featured regularly during the first half of City’s 2018-19 domestic treble-winning year. From that point, an injury-riddled 2019-20 campaign saw City’s defense crumble after losing Aymeric Laporte to a knee injury. Stones featured only sparingly for the rest of that season, leading to a summer of intense transfer speculation. But this season, Stones has impressed whenever he has played for City. He has featured in seven games for the Cityzens, keeping five clean sheets and also scoring one goal.
The English international was given prime responsibility to handle this City defense in their FA Cup tie against Fulham. At the heart of the backline, the centre-back looked calm and composed as always. Stones displayed his heading prowess within the first 15 minutes of the game as we saw the tall centre-back head off a De Bruyne cross into the Fulham net to take the lead against the visitors. It was a solid performance from City’s number five.
John Stones has not featured in many games for City this season, and the games that he was a part of were mostly comfortable wins. He did not get to face many attacks from the opposition, which is why he has a low number of defensive actions per 90 minutes. The important stat here is that he has been able to win almost 85.29% of the defensive actions he has attempted. He has the highest success rate in winning aerial duels, which is a result of his robust build.
He has a high winning percentage in defensive as well as aerial duels. He has attempted 2.33 defensive duels and 4.82 aerial duels per 90 minutes. Stones has started all of his games on the right side of the two centre-backs. As seen in the above visual, Stones has won most of his aerial duels a bit higher up the pitch as City try and push their opponents behind.
While it is not confirmed if Laporte will leave for Barcelona in the summer transfer window, it is highly critical for City to analyze their options just in case the transfer goes through. Pep has centre-backs as options, with each one of them having their own set of strengths through which they can contribute to the performance of the team. They are currently nine points ahead of second-placed Liverpool on the table and will want to maintain this gap with the other clubs.