Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles has claimed that centre-back John Stones is already as good a player as Barcelona star Gerard Pique and suggested that the England man's style is more continental than English, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo.
Stones has been a remarkable breakout star for the Toffees since joining from Barnsley three years ago, making 87 appearances in all competitions for the Merseyside club.
A tremendous campaign last season saw persistent interest from Chelsea in last summer's transfer window, with three bids, the final of which was reportedly worth around £30 million, rejected by Everton.
This season has not quite managed to live up to last for the ball-playing 21-year-old, who has been the subject of some criticism from fans and pundits for a perceived drop in performance level.
However, Robles, who spends his time in goal for the club relying on Stones to help protect him, is in no doubt about the youngster's ability and claims he is already as good as Barcelona and Spain centre-back Gerard Pique.
The Spaniard said, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo: "John is unbelievable. He's a young lad. I think he is different. He is not a typical English centre-back.
"John has learned at Everton and for me [it] is important for this club that we keep him.
"I think he is at the same level [as Pique] at the moment. In the future he can be a really good player."
Pique's career to date would certainly be a fine one to emulate - the 29-year-old has played nearly 350 competitive matches at club level, being named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI three times and winning six league titles and four Champions League trophies in his time with Barca and Manchester United.
Stones' progress in recent years has seen him become a regular candidate for a spot at centre-back for England, and he is widely expected to be named in Roy Hodgson's squad for Euro 2016.