Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp has backed John Stones to seal a summer move away from Manchester City, with Arsenal put forward as a ‘good fit’ for the England defender.
Stones has enjoyed mixed success since sealing a £47.5million transfer from Everton in 2016, with the centre-half never becoming a mainstay of any side put together by Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.
The Spanish tactician has at most called on Stones to feature in 27 games during a single Premier League campaign, which the 26-year-old achieved during his first season away from Goodison Park and will not be able to better this term.
Guardiola has called on Stones to feature just 14 times in the English top-flight this season and has only started the Barnsley product on three occasions during 2020, of which just one instance has come since the resumption of the campaign.
Redknapp evidently fears for Stones’ future role at the Etihad Stadium with Guardiola more and more inclined not to award the 39-cap international minutes, but would not warn potential suitors off a move as the £32.4m-rated defender still has time on his side.
“What’s next for John Stones?” Redknapp pondered in his column for the Daily Mail.
“One of Virgil van Dijk’s biggest assets is his decision-making. He knows when to play and when to put the ball into row-Z. With Stones, that’s been a downfall.
“He is quick, strong and brave in the air but he’s made high-profile mistakes. The spotlight has been on him since he was signed from Everton for £47.5million, so his errors always catch attention.
“But Stones is still only 26 – the same age Van Dijk was when he joined Liverpool. He is young enough to mould but has only started once in the league under Pep Guardiola since January.
“Arsenal need a centre back, and Mikel Arteta knows Stones from his City days. That could be a good fit.”
Reports have suggested Arsenal will be in the market for a new centre-half in the upcoming summer window, with Arteta thought to be chasing a ‘bargain’ arrival to support David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Rob Holding and William Saliba at the Emirates next term.
Whether Arsenal’s believably small budget would be able to cover a move for £100k-per-week Stones would remain to be seen, just like any potential advances, though Arteta’s prior-connection could help both the Gunners and City in talks.
Guardiola would clearly not miss much from Stones’ departure by the lack of game time awarded this term, while the error-prone defender has only averaged 1.2 successful tackles, 0.8 interceptions, 0.4 blocks and 3.6 aerial duels won per 90 minutes during his 1,013 minutes on the field in Premier League fixtures, per data collected by WhoScored.