Even while Manchester City have suffered defensively this season, which has been one of the biggest reasons behind their unsuccessful defence of the Premier League title, one defender has barely had a look-in. Pep Guardiola has even been playing youngster Eric Garcia ahead of him since the league restarted, and his injury history, combined with Pep’s fading trust, mean that he is almost certainly going to depart from the Etihad during the summer transfer window.
We are, of course, referring to John Stones. The 26-year-old has seen a steady decline in his reputation since joining City in a £47.5 million deal from Everton back in August 2016. Back then, he was considered one of the best young English centre-backs, especially due to his ability to play out from the back, and had been the subject of furious interest from Jose Mourinho at Chelsea as well the previous season. The fact that City splashed out the second-highest fee for a defender at that time on Stones showed just how highly they rated him, ahead of Pep’s arrival in Manchester. It was well-known that the Catalan would want defenders who would be comfortable on the ball, and Stones fit that requirement, as well as being young and English. It was thought that the sky would be the limit for the young English centre-back, with Pep moulding him into one of the best players in the world in his position.
How misguided do all of those predictions look now? To be fair though, Guardiola himself has said that there is no doubt about Stones’ ability, but he has suffered due to the various injuries he has picked up during his time at City. According to Transfermarkt, Stones has missed at least 30 matches during his time at City due to injuries. Along with his susceptibility to injuries, Stones has not covered himself in glory when on the pitch either. While there have been some memorable performances, most notably in the Champions League against Barcelona, Stones has been prone to making costly errors which have caused his team to concede goals. He has often given the ball away by dawdling on it for too long or trying to play it out when the sensible option would be to make a clearance, and it is abundantly clear that Pep does not trust him anymore, given that the Catalan plays Nicolas Otamendi ahead of him. At this point in time, punters will have more luck playing on the multitude of new slot sites on the web, than Stones has had with injuries and bad form. It seems as if he needs to leave City to reset his career.
Stones’ career is at the risk of stagnating, and while he has picked up trophies at City, he will be the first to admit that not being a regular member of the XI after nearly five years at the club will hurt. While his wages are sure to be a considerable stumbling block for any club looking to recruit him, there is still a very good player in there, and he would be a decent choice for many Premier League clubs. It is also important to note that Stones was starting for England at the 2018 World Cup, and he will need to play regularly, either at City or elsewhere, if he is to get back into Gareth Southgate’s plans.