The 22-year-old centre-back has penned a six-year deal and will be looking to develop into one of the game’s best defenders under Pep Guardiola’s guidance at The Etihad.
Stones became the second most expensive defensive signing in world football, behind £50 million PSG star David Luiz, but just where will he fit into Guardiola’s City defence this season?Embed from Getty Images
Although he is capable of playing at right-back, Stones is a natural ball-playing central defender and will be expecting to play in the heart of the Citizens back four, as opposed to on the right flank.
That gives Guardiola an instant selection headache, with Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany the current first-choice pairing when fit. Eliaquim Mangala and Jason Denayer are also fighting for a place in Guardiola’s defence, so Stones is by no means guaranteed a starting berth with his new side.
Looking at Stones’ statistics from last season, compared to Otamendi and Kompany’s, it is clear he is a different type of defender to his new teammates.
Stones boasted a pass completion rate of 89% over the course of the last campaign – only three centre-backs had a better record in the top flight last term – while the young England star also won more tackles and interceptions than Kompany per 90 minutes.Embed from Getty Images
The issue is that Stones is weaker in the air than Otamendi and Kompany, with the bigger concern the fact that he made three errors leading to opposition goals last year.
The Barnsley academy product likes to bring the ball out of defence and look for a teammate, as opposed to clearing his lines when receiving the ball. But that does lead to mistakes and he will need to have his decision-making improved by Guardiola.Embed from Getty Images
If fit, Vincent Kompany will start for City. He is their captain, their leader, and one of the game’s finest defenders. But simply dropping Otamendi to accommodate Stones seems like a bold decision, given the fact that the Argentine made more tackles, blocks, clearances and interceptions than any other City defender last season.
Stones will be available to start City’s Premier League opener at home to Sunderland on Saturday evening and it will now be intriguing to see whether he finds himself in the starting lineup from the word ‘go’.
Should John Stones be a first-choice centre-back for Manchester City? Is he better than Nicolas Otamendi?