How does £47.5m Stones fit into Manchester City’s defence?

John Stones completed his £47.5 million move from Everton to Manchester City on Tuesday morning, making him the most expensive defender in Premier League history.

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?

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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.

Table: John Stones' 2015/16 Premier League statistics compared to Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi (stats via Squawka).

Table: John Stones’ 2015/16 Premier League statistics compared to Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi (stats via Squawka).

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.

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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.

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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?


The Dugout: Pep Guardiola’s new era at Manchester City

The 2016/17 Premier League season is fast approaching and a number of clubs will start the campaign with new managers. Fans will be expecting more from their team and here, ‘The Dugout‘ will assess whether Pep Guardiola can quickly adapt to life in the Premier League with Manchester City…

Manchester City fans have had a lot to cheer about over the past five or six years but the arrival of Pep Guardiola to The Etihad will have left supporters grinning from ear to ear since his appointment was announced on February 1. Guardiola is not just ‘the next manager’ to be tasked with getting City’s star-studded squad to achieve greatness, he is the man expected to deliver a lasting legacy along with consistent title wins – something the club have so far failed to do.

It is a new era for the club. A new badge has been unveiled and under Guardiola’s guidance, fans will be hoping to experience the most successful spell in the club’s history.

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City may have won the Premier League in two of the past five seasons but they haven’t been able to really dominate English football as they will feel they should. Guardiola will be expected to bring a first title in three seasons to the club in his maiden campaign in England. But he is coming into a new league in what is poised to be the most competitive season in Premier League history. The Spaniard admits he has taken the most challenging job of his coaching career by moving to Manchester but he is focused on the task at hand and City fans are right to be excited for the upcoming season.

So what can City fans expect from Guardiola’s reign at The Etihad?

Trophies… And lots of them…

Guardiola’s reign at Manchester City will be deemed a success or failure based on the number of trophies he is able to win. He arrives in Manchester after winning 22 trophies over nine seasons with European giants FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich – an average of 2.4 per year.

FC Barcelona 2008-2012: La Liga x3, Champions League x2, Copa Del Rey x2, Supercopa de España x3, UEFA Super Cup x2 & FIFA Club World Cup x2.

Bayern Munich 2013-2016: Bundesliga x3, DFB-Pokal x2, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup

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Critics will point to the fact that he has coached extremely talented teams in leagues where competition is limited to two or three teams competing for the title. The same critics will be suggesting the 45-year-old is not cut out for life in the Premier League but he has responded to that theory by saying: “That’s why I’m here. To prove myself.”

Only time will tell if Guardiola is able to achieve success using his possession-based tactics with this Manchester City side, but he has proven to be a natural winner as a manager and supporters will be expecting silverware. The Citizens have only failed to win a trophy in one of their last six seasons, winning two Premier League titles, two League Cups, one FA Cup and a Community Shield over that time. It has been a great few years but the new manager is expected to do build further on those achievements.

Attractive football… 

Guardiola will bring a new style of football to Manchester City. His style. After achieving great success with Barcelona and Bayern using his philosophy of possession-based, high pressing football, City can expect to see a new-look approach over the course of the 2016-17 campaign. Mauricio Pochettino has turned his Tottenham team into a real force in England by playing a similar style, so there is no doubt it can work in the Premier League. Guardiola just needs to find the right balance between beautiful football and physicality.

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Speaking in his first press conference as City boss, Guardiola made it clear what he expects of his teams: “At the end what we want is so simple; when the opponent as the ball, take it back as quick as possible. When we have the ball try to move as quick possible, to create as much chances as possible. That’s all. And good team spirit. That is my target in my next life here in Manchester.”

Manuel Pellegrini was criticised for his tactical setup on several occasions during his tenure but City fans can expect the football to be a lot more attractive under Guardiola, whether they are successful or not.

Emphasis on youth…

Jose Mourinho sparked national debate in relation to his youth policy during his first Manchester United press conference. Whatever your thoughts on the new United boss, Guardiola’s success working with youngsters has been a lot more evident over his managerial career.

Having worked with Barcelona’s B team before stepping up to the senior squad, he knew all about the club’s young stars. At Bayern, he installed a new ‘tactical culture’ to the club, from the first team all the way through to the academy and the same will now be expected at The Etihad.

Guardiola moulded the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Pedro and Thiago Alcantara into world-class players during his time in Barcelona. He will give players opportunities and more importantly, will be patient with them as they develop.

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He has already mentioned how impressed he has been by some of the current City youngsters and they will be looking to impress when giving opportunities by the new coach: “Now I realise in a short time we are working with 9-10 players in the second team and most of them I’m really impressed with their quality.”


Pep Guardiola is a composed man. He is not going to be able to match the likes of Antonio Conte, Slaven Bilic and Jurgen Klopp when it comes to animated touchline drama. But that doesn’t mean he is any less passionate about his job or his players.

“I need time but as soon as possible we are going to try to create team spirit,” he has said. “That is the most important thing. After you can create tactics but we have to create something special with ourselves.”

The Spanish manager will be seen issuing tactical instructions on the touchline but he will go about his job calmly and with a measured approach. He knows what he wants from his players. That will be made clear from the word ‘go’. So long as his players respond positively, Guardiola and Manchester City should be able to enjoy huge amounts of success over the next few years.

Will Pep Guardiola be an instant success at Manchester City? Can he win the Premier League at the first attempt?

Are City right to be chasing this £72m trio of Premier League stars?

Manchester City look set to spend big once again this summer as incoming manager Pep Guardiola is looking to overhaul the squad ahead of his first season in the Premier League.

There are a number of high-profile names across Europe being linked with summer moves to the Etihad, with the latest reports suggesting three Premier League stars are being targeted.

A report in the Sun claims City will splash the cash to try and bring Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Tottenham’s Danny Rose and Everton’s John Stones to the club in the coming months.

That trio of top flight talent is worth around £72 million, according to Transfermarkt’s valuations of each player.

But would those three players improve City ahead of next season’s title charge?

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal – Estimated value: £41.25 million

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Sanchez has been a real hit at Arsenal since moving to the Premier League from Barcelona in July 2014. He ended the last campaign with 13 goals and five assists in 30 league appearances and also performed remarkably well in the Champions League, contributing to eight goals in seven outings. Guardiola signed Sanchez from Udinese while managing Barcelona in 2011 and would love to be reunited with the pacey Chilean at City.

Verdict: Arsenal would do everything in their power to stop their star man leaving for City but it could ultimately come down to where Sanchez himself would prefer to be playing football next season. A move looks unlikely but City won’t be afraid of splashing the cash to land a player as good as Alexis Sanchez. Pairing him with Sergio Aguero in attack would give City one of the most devastating attacks in world football and Guardiola knows how to get the best out of the 27-year-old winger.

Danny Rose – Tottenham – Estimated value: £8.25 million

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Danny Rose is once again being linked with a move to the Etihad. The England left-back was reportedly a target for the club last summer but no formal offer was made and he continued to develop at White Hart Lane under Mauricio Pochettino instead. He looks to be a key part of the Spurs team and they would not be prepared to sell to a Premier League rivals. He will travel to Euro 2016 this summer with England and could see his stock rise further if he starts for Roy Hodgson.

Verdict: His estimated value of £8.25 million seems far too low for an England international who is set to be playing Champions League football next term. City might look to table an offer, with Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy both potentially leaving, but Rose is still not that sound defensively, with his main contributions coming on the attacking side of the ball. If Guardiola wants a bombarding fullback, then Rose could be the man. But if not, they should probably look elsewhere.

John Stones – Everton – Estimated value: £22.5 million

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John Stones looks increasingly likely to leave Goodison Park this summer, with several clubs reportedly interested in his services. He will be 22 by the time the new season starts and is still extremely young for a centre-back. He has shown promise and is a confident ball-playing defender, but now needs the right guidance to help him reach his potential. He will be with England at Euro 2016 and his stock will only rise if he impresses at the tournament.

Verdict: City are in need of another central defender, with Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis both failing to inspire over the past two seasons. Vincent Kompany has ongoing injury troubles, while Nicolas Otamendi was inconsistent, so bringing in a young player like Stones makes sense as Guardiola could mould him to perfectly fit his possession-based style of play. He won’t come cheap but would surely be worth the investment.

Do you think Manchester City should be chasing the trio mentioned above? Which of the three should be the main target?

Podcast: Matt Miazga, Galaxy’s signings & Pep Guardiola discussed

In the latest MLSGB Podcast, Zack Walford talks to Louis East and Jamie Ives about Matt Miazga’s transfer from the New York Red Bulls to Chelsea FC, and also discuss some of LA Galaxy’s most recent signings.

We finish off by talking about Pep Guardiola’s upcoming move to Manchester City now that it is official and have a quick recap of the Premier League’s transfer deadline day business.

Be sure to comment below or get in touch on Twitter: @MLSGB_

Manchester City receive ‘promise’ from Pep Guardiola – report

Manchester City have received a promise from Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola that he will take over at the Etihad in the summer of 2016, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

Guardiola has been linked with a move to the Premier League with City this summer as Manuel Pellegrini is under pressure after failing to win a trophy this term.

But it now seems that City bosses will have to wait another season if they are to hire the former Barcelona manager, whose contract with the German giants expires next summer.

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Italian transfer expert Gianluca Di Marzio has claimed that Guardiola has made a promise to join City at the end of the 2015-16 season after discussions with the club.

Guardiola has won the Champions League twice with Barca and City’s overriding ambition is to be successful in Europe’s elite competition, so the Spaniard is their ideal candidate.

Though, contrasting reports suggest Guardiola is weighing up the Manchester United job, which could also be available at the end of next season.

What do you make of Pep Guardiola’s reported promise to join City?