Prior to the closing of the transfer deadline on 31 August 2015, quite a bit hysteria had surrounded John Stones. With Everton rebuffing one offer after another and Chelsea returning with a raise every time, it seemed that Stones’ days with The Toffees would be limited. But Chairman Bill Kenwright and his then manager Roberto Martinez were adamant in their refusal. Chelsea had to relent and Stones stayed put. But not before the damage was done. That protracted transfer saga affected his game. Though not visible initially, his form dipped alarmingly and saw him commit silly fouls and naive error that cost his side win after win. It didn’t come as a surprise when he was benched by Martinez and then was used inconsistently for the remainder of the campaign.
Will Guardiola’s Leadership Resurrect Stones?
However, with new investor Farhad Moshiri now calling shots and the club flush with fresh funds, it would be only logical to assume that Stones will be plying his trade at Goodison Park come 2016-17. But reality and logic are not always on the same side in football. With Guardiola at the helm of Manchester City and Sheikh Mansour’s pockets deep as ever, his departure looks imminent this summer. And maybe, this time, he will not have to hand in a transfer request. Rumoured to have been told to new boss Ronald Koeman of his desire to move to Etihad Stadium, the Merseyside-based outfit would be wise to cash in on him. Having been brought at a measly sum of just £1 million, he is set to be their best ever buy. So what does the future hold for John Stones?
Guardiola: A chance for resurrection
It was not for nothing that Chelsea was involved in a massive bidding war for the defender’s signature. The Barnsley academy product was a breath of fresh air in the English defense. Unlike his fellow defenders, he wasn’t just about brute defending and getting the rid of the ball, but he was a genuine ball-playing center back akin to Leonardo Bonucci of Juventus. While the Citizens are being continuously linked with the Italian, Juventus are in no mood of letting him go. Slapping a price tag of £50 million, they have succeeded in warding off the Etihad based outfit. Also, having being snubbed by Aymeric Laporte who chose to sign a new contract with Athletic Bilbao, Guardiola has been demanding a center back cognate to the likes he has worked with in Barcelona. Stones fits the bill perfectly.
While the dip in form was a concern to his parent club, Guardiola is more than capable of reshaping the Englishman’s career and give it a new lease of life. Not every footballer can claim to have the opportunity to work under the Catalan and those who did have the chance have been effusive in their praise. Having revolutionized the playing styles of David Alaba and Philipp Lahm at Bayern, he is more than favourite to replicate the same with Stones. Also, by moving to Etihad stadium, he would be guaranteed one thing that Everton couldn’t: Trophies. Even in the reign of Manuel Pellegrini which saw City slump alarmingly which had put serious question marks over their participation in the Champions League, the blue half of Manchester still had a trophy to celebrate for. In stark contrast to Everton, who haven’t claimed one in more than three decades? Ronald Koeman is a great coach and can make him better too but the things on offer at Etihad stadium are far too tempting to turn down.
The Price Tag: Lessons from Sterling saga
While all the talk of his transfer is bound to make any youngster optimistic, caution cannot be ignored. For every Kevin De Bruyne, there is a Raheem Sterling. Both big money moves but the fortunes couldn’t have been any more different. While the Belgian lit up the home ground with his electrifying displays that made him a mainstay in the attack in just his first season, the English youngster fizzled out after a bright start. With sporadic moments of decisiveness, he has hauled off at half-time on numerous occasions by Pellegrini. While the form is prone to slumps, the price tag is bound to have played its part. Having to continuously live up to the £49 million price, he was under pressure straightaway, one which had its effect as the campaign went on. Stones won’t come cheap and he will be well-served to remember his national teammate’s case when jumping the ship.