It’s been a special season for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, hasn’t it? A history-making treble that consisted of some dream-like football along the way, it’s been amazing. We all knew the heights of City’s potential, but it’s certainly been realised this year. Yet, there still remains questions within the squad.
Will they once again break the bank to recruit world-class talent? Circumstances may change since being referred to UEFA’s club financial control body adjudicatory chamber after being investigated for a breach of financial fair play rules, after all. Indeed, it also remains to be seen who in the current squad will still be there next season.
One player whose future seems highly up in the air is John Stones. The centre back was brought to Manchester in 2016 in a £47.5m switch from Everton. After struggling immensely in his first season at the club, the defender certainly appeared to have improved along with the City team last season, all but cementing a place in the starting team. However, he was then hampered by injuries, missing a total of 17 games over the course of the season.
This season has also been a difficult one for the Englishman. Aymeric Laporte and Nicolas Otamendi proved to be firmly ahead in the pecking order, while Vincent Kompany truly made the position his own towards the backend of the season. Stones had to settle for 24 Premier League appearances this season, with only 20 starts. Perhaps a damning stat is that he featured in all four of City’s Premier League losses this season, conceding 15 times in the process.
To put this into perspective Kompany made 17 appearances this season, with four off the bench. Yet, he was not involved in a single defeat conceding seven times. Likewise, Otamendi was involved in only one defeat in 18 appearances, again conceding only seven times. It’s difficult to hide behind the stats. Of all the first team defenders, City were clearly at their worst when Stones partnered Laporte in defence.
It, therefore, presents somewhat of a conundrum for Guardiola. It’s been revealed since their FA Cup win that Kompany is heading back to Belgium, while Otamendi is now 31-years-old. At 24, there is so much potential there with Stones. Yet, with wages of £100,000-a-week (as per Spotrac), he really needs to be performing to a higher standard.
The likelihood is that Stones will still be a City player come August. He’s a player that certainly fits the City mould. Quick, confident and excellent with the ball. Yet while the likes of Kyle Walker, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Laporte have all continued to progress under the Spaniard’s leadership, perhaps Stones is being left behind.
Should he aim to gain a starting place in the team, an improvement is certainly needed, as right now, he’s something of a burden to this City side.
City fans, what do you think? Is this a harsh assessment of the talented Englishman? Would it be a blow to see him go? Comment below.
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