Manchester City defender John Stones is reportedly the subject of transfer talks between his current club and Newcastle, who have recently been linked with the England international.
Football journalist Nicolo Schira tweeted (via @NicoSchira) that first talks have begun over the possibility of the 25-year-old going to St James’ Park, with the Magpies interested in the centre-back.
— Nicolò Schira (@NicoSchira) May 26, 2020
That follows on from a report in The Telegraph at the weekend which claimed that Rafael Benitez wants to return to Newcastle if the prospective new owners complete their takeover of the club, with the Spaniard apparently keen to bring Stones to Tyneside.
The England defender has endured a frustrating season at Manchester City, missing 13 matches through various injuries in the autumn and just before the campaign was halted amid the coronavirus pandemic in March.
He has managed only 10 Premier League starts in the current campaign, while his match averages for clearances and blocks have diminished from last season, falling from 2.5 to two and 0.4 to 0.1 respectively. He has also averaged fewer passes per game compared to 2018/19, decreasing from 73 to 65. [via WhoScored]
He was culpable for a goal-causing error in the Carabao Cup final against Aston Villa in March as he fell over when looking certain to clear a long ball, allowing Anwar El Ghazi to get in a cross for Mbwana Samatta to pull Villa back to 2-1 in a hard-fought match at Wembley. As per Manchester Evening News, that error led to many of the club’s fans hammering him on social media and calling for teenager Eric Garcia to be promoted to the first XI instead.
Spanish youngster Garcia has been on the fringes of the first team, making 11 appearances for Pep Guardiola’s side this season and been given two Premier League starts. He has shown promising early signs by averaging 93.6% passing accuracy, making four interceptions against Everton on New Year’s Day and recording six clearances in the 3-2 defeat at Wolves.
Who would you rather have in Manchester City's first XI next season?
The 19-year-old seems a fine prospect and a potentially hectic summer fixture schedule for Manchester City could offer Guardiola the ideal scenario in which to give him further game-time. However, with both Stones and Aymeric Laporte blighted by injuries this season, that left Nicolas Otamendi as the squad’s only senior centre-back for a while, forcing midfielder Fernandinho to deputise in a defensive role.
Garcia nonetheless looks capable of making the step up to the first team and filling the void that Stones could leave, even if Guardiola doesn’t exactly have an overflow of centre-back options.
Man City fans, would you be happy for Stones to be sold if it enables Garcia to play more regularly? Comment below with your views!
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