Over the last couple of days, rumours have been circulating concerning a potential move to Arsenal for John Stones. Let’s explore just why Arsenal shouldn’t make a move for the injury-prone Manchester City defender.
As we edge closer to this Summer’s transfer window, rumours concerning incomings at Arsenal are intensifying. Thomas Partey’s move to Arsenal is reportedly nearing completion. The Gunners are said to be interested in Dayot Upamecano and Malang Sarr to provide upgrades in defensive areas. Meanwhile, the likes of Jack Grealish, Dominik Szoboszlai and Philippe Coutinho have been touted as potential problem solvers in the attacking midfield area.
Such names should rightfully make fans feel optimistic. These are players who have undoubted talent and have the potential to transform Mikel Arteta’s team.
A player who doesn’t fill me with such optimism is John Stones. Yes, three or four years ago a move for the Englishman might have been more of an enticing and exciting prospect. However, four years have passed since Stones joined Manchester City for £50 million and it doesn’t seem his game has developed all that much.
Right now at Manchester City, he’s barely getting a look in. This season, Pep Guardiola has preferred to start the likes of Eric Garcia (19), Nicolas Otamendi (32) and Fernandinho (35) ahead of the Englishman. Stones is 26. This is an age where a centre-back should be entering his prime. This should not be an age where he should be accepting of the fact that he’s below a 35-year-old midfielder in the central defensive pecking order at his club. Perhaps he isn’t content with this. But still, he doesn’t give the impression of someone who’s particularly desperate to get back into the team.
Of course, Stones has had some difficulties at City. Pep Guardiola’s reluctance to give the Englishman a consistent run of games in a Manchester City shirt has hampered his development massively. Meanwhile, he has suffered from his fair share of injury troubles since joining the Etihad side. However, if we want to sign a centre-back to develop, we should look for someone in his early twenties/ late teens and he shouldn’t be injury prone.
One then might suggest that Stones wouldn’t be a centre-back who’d be brought in for development. Instead, he’d be a more experienced option. A player who could help the likes of William Saliba and potential incomings become better defenders. A player who’d be a guaranteed weekly starter. To be frank, it’s unlikely Stones would be able to fulfil such a role. He doesn’t possess any obvious leadership traits, the former Everton defender has still got a lot of room for improvement and he hasn’t played more than 30 Premier League games in a single season since the 2015/16 campaign. He just doesn’t fit the quota for an accomplished central defender for a top side.
On top of this, if Stones was signed, he would also limit the potential of our current central defenders. William Saliba, who is not even 20 yet, will undoubtedly have eyes on making the right centre-back position at Arsenal his own, Stones’ favoured role. Rob Holding is just 24 and has looked like he’s been getting his mojo back in an Arsenal shirt lately, he won’t want to slip any further down Arsenal’s defensive hierarchy. Then, it’s likely incoming defenders this Summer will also be relatively young and won’t want to join if they aren’t guaranteed a consistent first-team start. The last thing we need is an error-prone 26-year-old keeping these players out of the team.
And then a question has to be asked over whether Stones would even be an upgrade on our current options. Shkodran Mustafi is enjoying the best form of his Arsenal career and is currently playing much better than John Stones. The same can be said for David Luiz. All the while, at peak fitness, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers are more than adequate options at the back. So, no. He wouldn’t transform our defence. We just don’t need John Stones.
It’s blatantly obvious that Arsenal shouldn’t be making a move for John Stones this summer. Regardless of the potential he once had, at 26, he should have matured into a top, top defender by now.
Unfortunately, he isn’t a top, top defender. And, he might never be. As an Englishman myself, I hope he can recover his career for the sake of the national team. As an Arsenal fan, I want him nowhere near my club.