When Manchester City signed John Stones last summer many heralded it as the potential defining moment in the young defender’s career.
Understandably so, too, with many thinking that once he’d got to understand Pep Guardiola’s pass-them-to-death approach as well as playing in a side with Vincent Kompany showing him when to leather the ball into row z, he’d become top drawer.
Unfortunately, though, we’re still waiting.
It’s not all his fault, of course, with the likes of Kompany out injured and the defenders around him not good enough but at the moment Stones is far from the finished article and highlights that, actually, there were better options for Pep’s vision than the defender proclaimed as the future of English football.
There’s one such man, too, who fits the bill more than any other – Aymeric Laporte.
The Athletic Bilbao man is, just like Stones was at Everton, the leading defensive starlet in his league – ahead of the likes of Raphael Varane at Real Madrid.
He can pass the ball better than a lot midfielders – like Stones – but, crucially, his football brain is streets ahead of the Englishman.
Laporte knows when to smash it out of play, he knows when to fly in and he knows when to stand off – qualities Stones has to learn.
The Frenchman has been doing this for a good while, too, and so with him already looking a finished article, under Guardiola he’d be formidable.
Stones, meanwhile, is actually a rung below and, whilst the hype will inevitably suggest other-wise, if City want to win the league over the coming years with a defender in his early 20’s there’s only one man for the job, and he’s in the Basque region of Spain.
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