Time for John Stones to Leave Manchester City

John Stones

Manchester City centre-back John Stones has not had a good season. The England international has been in and out of the lineup this season, struggling for fitness and form. The fact of the matter is that with his contract set to expire at the end of next season, this could be John Stones last season in Manchester.

John Stones Time Is Running Out

John Stones At City

Since making his high priced move from Everton to Manchester City, John Stones hasn’t really impressed. He came to City as an excellent ball-playing Centre-back, and he has been strong in that area. And if his time at Manchester City were only judged by ball-progression he would be a regular starter.

But playing centre-back in Pep Guardiola’s team is the hardest position for a reason. The possession style and high press defence put the centre-backs in tremendously tough positions routinely. Players like Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano, Fernandinho and Joshua Kimmich have all thrived under Guardiola because they’re outstanding recovering ability.

It’s not like Stones would be the first player that couldn’t keep up with Guardiola’s system. But now in his fourth season working with Guardiola, it feels like Stones is even worse at playing his position than he was when he got here.

Reading and Reacting

Stones and every other centre-back under Guardiola are constantly put in compromised positions. Very often they’re defending in space, on the counter, or one-on-one against the world’s best-attacking players. Guardiola’s great centre-backs from Aymeric Laporte to Gerard Pique are all masters in these situations.

When they get drawn into compromised positions, they never let the ball past them. John Stones, on the other hand, has a much harder time in these positions. Even in their 6-1 slashing of Aston Villa, Stones was beaten on multiple counter-attacks in the first half alone.

Both times Stones was drawn in by an out-ball played to Villa’s forwards. One time an easy touch pass played in Jack Grealish, another the attacker flat beat Stones. It’s easy to find a Centre-back that completes 90+% of his passes. But Manchester City needs John Stones to stop those attacks or it’s time to move on.

The Future

In the end, what all of this means is that John Stones will most likely be looking for a new home this summer. It’s no secret that Manchester City is already looking for a few new centre-backs. And Stones will probably want to be somewhere where he has a solid opportunity to play.

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