It would be completely fair to say that the career of John Stones has never quite kicked on at City. Now, this is not due to a lack of endeavor or commitment from Stones. The lad has sometimes been hit with issues beyond his control. There were many instances when he would have a wonderful first part of the season. But, he would be injured for the remainder of the campaign. There is generally a breakthrough campaign at the heart of every player’s career. But, when you go through the career of John, that is absent. You look at Laporte having that stellar campaign when he came to City or even Ruben Dias being excellent in his opening campaign. For that matter, even Cancelo was exceptional last season. With Stones, you will not find any such stellar season.
The personality and mental toughness of Stones is incredible
The summer of 2019 was an interesting time in the career of Stones. He was the subject of huge interest from Newcastle. The fascinating part was that John’s career has stalled at City and it was not going anywhere. I personally thought that he should make the move and resurrect his career. He was coming of age and the overall feeling around the fan base was that the move to a relatively low pressure environment at Newcastle would be the turning point in John’s career.
To everyone’s surprise, John decided to stick around and had an incredible start to the subsequent campaign. The personality and mentality to fight for his place and stay put, stood out for me. John’s start to the 2019 -20 season was inspirational beyond footballing sense. It offered many life lessons about grit and determination.
Playing CDM for Pep requires special qualities
I have outlined a brief history of Stones above, to underline the qualities that Pep looks for in his CDM. Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Fernandinho…… Just have a glimpse on the players that have played for Pep in his coveted CDM role. All of these are Legends of the game. The common thread among them is their resilience and unflinching ability under extreme pressure. They are just unpressable and do not lose the ball.
These qualities are impossible to develop unless you have them in your personality. This is where I think John Stones perfectly suits the role. He has shown Pep, he is always determined to win his place back despite many setbacks
CDM role could unlock the real potential of Stones
I also feel that the CDM role maximizes the strengths of Stones and offsets his weaknesses. At the center back position, he has been found wanting for a lack of pace this campaign. There were several occasions when he seemed that little bit worried about the attacker outpacing him. This has affected his ball playing ability and his confidence.
With the CDM role, pace is the least of his worries. He can now concentrate on the build up play and bringing the ball out of the opponent’s press. Ball playing ability has always been the strength of Stones and the CDM role could just magnify this asset. The remarkable thing about Pep is that he tries to maximize the qualities of each player in his system. This CDM position switch could also be a game changer for Pep in terms of having a more mobile midfield alternative compared to Rodri for certain games.