As of the very near future, the football population of Manchester will increase by at least two. John Stones will move the very short distance from Merseyside, assuming that he doesn’t already live in Cheshire, while Paul Pogba will re-locate from Turin in a return to his spiritual home.
There are similarities between the two but only in their situations, not in their football talents.
Stones is 22 years of age and, being English, has undoubtedly cost Manchester City a premium for this fact alone. He is not yet the finished article and was wanted by Chelsea and, reportedly, Manchester United, but he preferred to remain in the North West with City, showing a remarkable amount of common sense for one so young.
Under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, it is expected that Stones will become one of the best defenders in Europe in much the same way as Gerard Pique did when he left Manchester United to return to Barcelona.
Quite what this signing means for others is a little unclear. It would seem that Eliaquim Mangala is surplus to requirements and will be sold as soon as anyone makes a reasonable offer. Vincent Kompany needs to overcome his injury problems to be considered a regular starter next season, while Nicolas Otamendi appears to be coming to terms with the expectations of playing for City. Jason Denayer shows undoubted promise but may need another loan move to get regular first team football.
The two starters, in theory anyway, would be Otamendi and Kompany assuming that they are both fit. If this is the case then Stones will have to play very well at every available opportunity to displace either of these two. When fit they are both consistently good defenders. However, £47.5 million is a lot to spend for a player to sit on the bench, ironically possibly, next to Raheem Sterling, who also cost in the region of £50 million!
John Stones is certainly young enough to spend a short while settling in but, with a World Cup in two years, he would certainly like to be an established centre-half at Manchester City in the reasonably short term.
Paul Pogba is 23 years of age and has become the world’s most expensive player which, considering that he is a midfielder, is a little surprising. What price Messi, Ronaldo or Suarez now?
His signing does not change things for others at United too much. Fellaini is never likely to be a first choice starter, neither is Mata or Schneiderlin. Schweinsteiger was going before the arrival of Pogba. Herrera appears to have stolen a march on one or two others since the arrival of Jose Mourinho, but that is now maybe in doubt. Although Henrikh Mkhitaryan was not selected for the Community Shield game against Everton, I do expect him to be a regular starter next season.
The player who, in my opinion, should be left out to accommodate Pogba is Wayne Rooney, who is a shadow of the player he was three or four years ago, despite what Mourinho and van Gaal before him have said. He currently brings nothing to the team and is totally ineffective as captain. Whether or not Jose Mourinho will drop him remains to be seen.
Unlike with John Stones, there will be no fighting for a place in the team for Pogba, providing he performs reasonably consistently, which he should. His signing has also proven that Champion’s League football is not an absolute necessity to attract the best players.
In conclusion, these are two players with the ability to remain at the top of the game for the next 10 years or more. They are both in Manchester and for a combined fee of only £136.8 million will, no doubt, prove excellent value for money.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Steve Mcmetha.