When Manchester City took on Liverpool in the Champions League last night, Pep Guardiola sprang a surprise at the back. He played three central defenders, with Aymeric Laporte playing at left-back. It was a move that backfired, as Mohamed Salah ran the Frenchman ragged. But one centre-back who did not feature at all for City was England international John Stones.
At the start of the season, it seemed Guardiola had improved the former Everton defender, who became a regular in the starting XI. But with Vincent Kompany fit, Nicolas Otamendi established and the arrival of Laporte from Athletic Bilbao the Yorkshireman has been reduced to fourth-choice centre-back for City.
Considering City paid Everton a fee reported by the BBC to be in the region of £47.5 million it is quite a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the centre-back. No doubt the situation will not sit well with him and many teams should be considering making a move for the talented, if not occasionally flawed, defender.
One such team should be Tottenham Hotspur.
Tottenham has become a haven for top British talent and Stones is exactly that. Whilst he is prone to the odd error he has the makings of a world-class defender, but sitting on the bench at City won’t get him there.
Tottenham are also in the hunt for a new centre-back. Toby Alderweireld is set to leave Spurs this summer after a contract dispute turned ugly with the London club.
With the Belgian being valued at £50 million, could Spurs use his wantaway attitude as a way to get Stones?
Manchester City are just one of many teams to have been linked with the Tottenham player. Should they sign him, then Stones would have to consider his future at The Etihad.
But if City want Alderweireld, Spurs would be wise to make a move for Stones.
Undoubtedly, the England man makes mistakes but he would also be a perfect replacement for Alderweireld. Using the Belgian to bring in a ready-made replacement would be a shrewd piece of business from Mauricio Pochettino and Daniel Levy.
He would settle in easily, with plenty of colleagues from England duty in the Tottenham squad. With regular football the mistakes will hopefully iron out of his game and Tottenham would have a future defensive partnership of Stones and Davinson Sanchez to look forward to.