LEAVE NO 'STONE' UNTURNED
Chelsea are reported to be on the verge of submitting a second bid for England defender John Stones, according to Mail Online.
The earmarked Everton star has been a top target for Chelsea, with a view to eventually replacing the iconic John Terry in the heart of the Stamford Bridge backline. But can the young defender be groomed into a future England captain?
Stones has impressed during his short career, making four appearances for the England national side, and being placed on the standby list for last summer’s World Cup.
The former Barnsley defender arrived at Goodison Park for a reported £3m at the start of 2013. After climbing through the youth ranks at his hometown club, his impressive performances caught the eye of then Toffees boss David Moyes, who splashed out on the 6ft 2 in centre back. An impressive debut season followed, and he was shortlisted for the prestigious Golden Boy Award in 2014.
Despite some injury woes, Stones has impressed Carlo Ancelotti enough to bid in an excess of £30m for him. For such a large blocker, he plays with an elegance on the ball that is reminiscent of compatriot Rio Ferdinand. In fact, the young lion spoke about his ambition to emulate both the former Manchester United captain and potential new team mate John Terry in some form of ultra-defending hybrid. ‘I’m trying to get that mixture’, he was quoted as saying, ‘between smooth passing and tough defending.’
Gary Cahill is the man who currently pairs JT in the heart of Chelsea’s defence. The emergence of Kurt Zouma last year put pressure on both Blues centre-backs, but Terry enjoyed perhaps his finest season yet. After doubts were raised by former manager Rafa Benitez, the ex-England captain led his club to their first Premier League title in five years. Terry may not be going anywhere just yet, but the move for Stones makes sense.
The Everton defender produced a near identical pass completion rate to the Stamford skipper last term, verging on 90%. He bested all of Chelsea’s centre back options last season in number of passes and number of tackles per game, along with more interceptions. It appears Stones certainly has the stats to not only replace Terry, but to slot into the first team right away.
Terry praised the young England international, describing himself as ‘a big fan’ of John Stones. ‘He pulls wide of the box and wants the ball,’ the Chelsea captain told the reporters, ‘and for a young defender in the Premier League that takes a lot of guts.’
The fee to bring Stones to West London is likely to eclipse the one that took Luke Shaw to Manchester United last year. However, it is hard to argue against paying it. The premium on English players has been much talked about, but Stones has proved himself in the Premier League. Replacing John Terry will be no mean feat, but he has age on his side.
Last year’s stats prove the Everton defender has what it takes to make it in the Premier League. Praise from the man he is set to take over from at some point suggests both Chelsea and England are in very good hands.