Manchester City have signed central defender John Stones from Everton for £47.5m, making him the second most expensive defender in history as well as the second most expensive English player ever.
The deal has long been rumoured but the big unveiling of the defender was rather ruined by UEFA, who rather let the cat out of the bag by listing Stones on their website as part of Manchester City’s Champions League squad the hour before.
Stones had been desperate for a move
Stones had made no secret of his desire to leave Everton, last summer he handed in a transfer request after the club rejected a £40m bid from Chelsea. The English defender has finally got his move and has become the eighth member of Pep Guardiola’s revolution at City. He will be expected to hit the ground running though as City have somewhat of a defensive crisis going into their opening game on Saturday evening against Sunderland. Vincent Kompany and Nicolás Otamendi are injury doubts, while the error-prone Eliaquim Mangala is understood to be out of favour with Guardiola. In a recent friendly, Fernando and Aleksandar Kolarov partnered each other in central defence, despite neither having played there before and were duly blown away by Arsenal who won the match 3-2.
Everton meanwhile, have moved swiftly to bring in a replacement after accepting what they described as a “record fee.” They have had a £12m bid accepted for Swansea captain Ashley Willaims.
After only 95 appearances for the Toffees, Stones’ fee sits second only behind the £50m PSG paid Chelsea for David Luiz in the all-time list for most expensive defenders and the £49m Manchester City paid for Raheem Sterling in the list of all-time most expensive Englishmen.
Stones is expected to feature heavily in City’s plans for the season as they were positively glowing in their praise for him on their club website. They described him as “mature beyond his years” as well as “one of the world’s most promising centre-backs, a ball-playing, 21stcentury defender, equally adept at neutralising opposition attacks as launching the first key pass out of the defensive third.”
Pep Guardiola also added: “I like the way he plays the game and I’m looking forward to welcoming him into the squad.”
Success from humble beginnings
The transfer of Stones can be seen as a success for the Football League. Stones joined Barnsley at the age of seven and stayed at the club up to the age of 19, making 28 appearances for the club before joining Everton for £3m in 2013. Since then he has gone onto join the growing contingent of players to represent England on the international stage that were produced in the Football League, winning 10 caps so far. Barnsley have done very well out of the deal and are expected to pocket between £7m and £9m thanks to the sell-on clause in his Everton contract.
Stones will be looking to use this move as a fresh start for himself. He was often criticised last season for his weak defensive displays and decision making, although most of the blame fell onto Roberto Martinez for his poor coaching methods, but there is no doubt that Stones need to improve to justify moving for such a hefty fee. He will also be looking to work his way into new England boss Sam Allardyce’s plans after being one of only two outfield players, alongside former teammate Ross Barkley, to not make an appearance at Euro 2016.
This transfer certainly shows the way football has changed over recent years, £47.5m is an incredible amount for a player that still has so much to prove in the game. However, if Guardiola can help Stones reach his vast potential we could be well be calling this a great move for them and England in a few years time.