Champions League

Pep Guardiola backs Manchester City star defender to become even better

Pep Guardiola wants John Stones to do a lot more for the team and the former Bayern Munich manager expects the defender to improve further.

The Manchester City boss hails the English international for his performances for the club but he expects the defender to continue growing and improving for the club. The £50 million John Stones arrived last season and has developed into a key star for the Citizens under Pep Guardiola.

With Guardiola’s side sitting nine points off second-placed Chelsea at the time of writing after a win over Leicester City, their attacking force has been lauded by both critics and fans alike. However, having conceded only seven goals this season, the Citizens have certainly improved the defensive side of their game.

In an interview, Guardiola said “We cannot forget that last season was the first time he was able to play three games a week. Everton, they play once a week. Here, you have the Champions League. You need a process to settle,” he told a news conference.

He became a father and that helped his life to be well-organised. He has this amazing quality to understand the game, to be calm, to read the next pass.”

Defensively all the team helped a lot but he joined a good partnership with Nico [Otamendi]. Every game last season he made one or two mistakes and this season that is more irregular. He’s still young and it depends on him if he wants to become better. Hopefully he still has the desire to improve because there are many things to improve with and without the ball.”

Stone’s performances for Manchester City have earned him England call-ups and the 23-year-old even played two full games in both of England’s friendlies earlier this month. The former Everton centre-back joined Manchester City during last season’s summer transfer window, for a then-record sum for a defender, but failed to live up to his price tag. This season, however, has seen the defender evolve and become a more consistent and reliable defender in Guardiola’s side.

The former Barcelona boss further added “He is more mature. Every player when he’s 20 or 21 is completely different to when he is 27 or 28. You have a lot of skills and talent when you buy them but they have to live the situation to realise, ‘OK, I can handle it’. For that, you need time. In football, you don’t get time but you need it.”

Author’s take:

After suffering an injury against Leicester City today, which could see John Stones miss up to nearly six weeks with a hamstring problem things may not go to plan for either club or player. While this causes major trouble for Pep Guardiola’s backline, it stagnates any development that the 23-year-old could potentially achieve and may change the course of the title challenge.

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