With Riyad Mahrez the only first-team signing Manchester City have made this summer, manager Pep Guardiola will be hoping his current crop of players can go up another gear to retain their Premier League title.
And one man who will be desperate to raise his game and make his mark at the Etihad this season is John Stones.
£49.5m-rated (via Transfermarkt) Stones joined the Premier League champions for big money back in 2016, but has not always been the first name on Guardiola’s team-sheet and now faces a real uphill battle to become a regular starter at the club.
Captain Vincent Kompany’s fitness is improving, Nicolas Otamendi’s performances have gotten drastically better but most significantly, Aymeric Laporte was brought in back in January for £57m (via BBC Sport), which was a club-record fee at the time.
Laporte has settled in well at the Etihad and, ultimately, his arrival at Manchester City has complicated things for Stones and could see him pushed down the pecking order in the long run.
Stones, however, has more than enough in his locker to wrestle back his spot in the team and the 24-year-old’s display with England at the World Cup was a reminder of his ability.
The former Everton man was calm and composed on the ball as usual, but his overall defending and decision making — which often comes under criticism — was of a high standard.
A costly error in the semi-finals against Croatia would have left a sour taste in Stones’ mouth though, but the central defender was still easily one of the Three Lions’ standout performers in the tournament.
The trio of Kompany, Otamendi and Laporte present a difficult challenge for Stones; however, the England international has the ability to overcome it.