Why John Stones would be worth a punt for Arsenal in January
The England international has found regular game time hard to come by at the Etihad in recent seasons and had been linked with a move away from the club in the summer. However, the 26-year-old stayed put after the Cityzens refused to sanction a transfer.
As per the report, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is confident of resurrecting Stones’ career and has made it clear that he wants to be informed if the centre-back becomes available.
A youth exponent of Barnsley, John Stones made his senior debut for the Tykes in the Championship during the 2011-12 season before completing a move to the top-flight with Everton in January 2013. He made his first-team breakthrough for the Toffees in the following campaign and went on to feature 95 times in all competitions over three seasons.
Stones’ burgeoning reputation as one of the best young central defenders in England prompted Man City to fork out a staggering £47.5million to secure his services in the summer of 2016. The 26-year-old played his part in City’s back-to-back domestic title triumphs in 2017-18 and 2018-19 but has seen his game time reduce in recent seasons due to inconsistent form and injuries.
The 26-year-old has started only 2 out of City’s 9 opening league fixtures this season so far, with the arrival of Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias in the summer pushing him further down the pecking order. A full international for England since 2014, Stones has earned 39 caps for the Three Lions.
Stones would offer the Gunners a long-term defensive solution
Arsenal were in dire need of bringing in defensive reinforcements in the summer after conceding 48 goals en route to their 8th-place finish in the Premier League last term. In response, the Gunners roped in Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille to bolster their backline. The Brazilian has made an instant impact following his arrival in North London.
Gabriel has established himself as a regular fixture at the back for Arteta’s side, starting 9 out of Arsenal’s 10 opening games in the PL so far. The 22-year-old’s inclusion has undoubtedly added more stability to the club’s backline. That’s clearly reflected by the statistics, with the Gunners conceding 12 goals.
Despite Gabriel’s impressive progress, Arteta still has some issues to sort out at the back with one eye on the future. Shkodran Mustafi has been widely tipped to depart the club after falling out of favour. David Luiz, though a key squad player for the Gunners, is nearing his twilight at 33. William Saliba is yet to make his senior debut for the club, meaning that he remains one for the future.
Putting things into context, Arsenal ideally need another quality centre-back to compete with the likes of Gabriel and Rob Holding in the coming seasons. John Stones ticks the box as a defender of proven calibre in the Premier League. Stones has had his fair share of highs and lows at Man City but he remains one of the best young centre-backs in English football.
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John Stones has amassed 164 appearances in the Premier League for Everton and Man City, meaning that he already has a lot of top-flight experience for a defender of his age. Besides that, he also fits the bill as a player with considerable exposure in the Champions League. That could come in handy for a club like Arsenal, who are battling to make a much-awaited return to Europe’s elite club competition.
The 26-year-old still potentially has his best years ahead of him and Arsenal could have a top-quality defender on their hands if Arteta manages to smoothen the rough edges in his game.