With Stones and Mustafi switching teams this transfer window, who will be the better purchase for their new team?
It has been a battle of cash splashing this summer with Manchester United the outright winners having broken the world record in a bid of around £90 million for Paul Pogba. Away from the red half of Manchester, the Blues have been busy with new manager Pep Guardiola fine-tuning his squad.
Defensively, he has looked to really ‘Guardiola’ his side up, adding John Stones, a player who is far from the finished article, but a ball playing centre-back which fits his style.
Another title winning candidate has also been in the market for a centre-back this summer. After injuries once again ravaged Arsenal, Sky Sports reported that Shkodran Mustafi has agreed to join Arsenal. With two high profile centre-backs switching teams, who is getting the better defender?
England's John Stones
Stones has appeared 77 times for Everton since 2013 and was selected for England’s Euro 2016 squad, but did not feature once. The centre-back, who is comfortable playing at right-back and in a central-defensive midfield, cost around £47.5 million in his high profile switch to City.
The former Toffees’ centre-back has split opinion since he broke into the Everton team. Some say he is hugely promising, others say he is erratic. He is a defender with a huge amount of confidence. Able to see things that other defenders cannot, he is very adept when on the ball and more than willing to keep possession for far longer than the average defender.
Stones is often very positive in his movement too with his willingness to move up the pitch with the ball. While this does add an extra dimension and body to the attack, he is often caught in possession, leaving his defence exposed and a man down. So great is his potential as a ball playing centre-back that his defending often gets forgotten.
It is very important for Stones’ development then, that his new manager is renowned for his development of young players and the fact he favours playing centre-halves that play out from the back.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is presented to the fans
While Stones will be learning from one of this generation’s best managers and one of the Premier League’s best centre-backs in Vincent Kompany, Stones must be careful. Such a huge price-tag can weigh heavily on the mind of a player or, worse still, he could let it go to his head. Guardiola must try to protect Kompany from injury then, as Stones will not benefit from playing alongside the more erratic Nicolas Otamendi.
Germany's Shkodran Mustafi celebrates after scoring their first goal
The German international comes at a time of crisis for Arsenal. Per Mertesacker has been ruled out for a number of months while Gabriel has been ruled out for around eight weeks. This influx of injury left Laurent Koscielny as the only senior defender in the team with youngsters Rob Holding and Calum Chambers providing backup.
Arsene Wenger has been criticised in the recent past for his transfer policy and refusal to pay large amounts of money for players. Recently it has been for the fact he has not brought in a big name striker to fire the Gunners to the title. However, once the extent of Gabriel’s injury became known, Wenger moved swiftly to find a replacement. It is vital then that Mustafi joins the gunners for their 2016/17 campaign.
Mustafi is another defender that is proficient with the ball at his feet. He is a confident defender, able to judge when keeping the ball or clearing it is the best option. Mustafi has played for Valencia since 2014 and, playing in a league which promotes every player in a team being technically good, he has also been part of the German side that demands that their centre-backs, like their goalkeepers, are very competent with their feet. This means he should slot into the Arsenal team seamlessly.
Mustafi is a very powerful player, difficult to push off the ball and a robust tackler. Standing at just 6 feet tall, Mustafi uses his superb jumping ability to attack balls played into the box and compensate for his height. However, with Mustafi likely to face a far more physical challenge in the Premier League, it will be interesting to see how he deals with the English league, which is far more aggressive.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger before the match
So who is the better buy? Price wise, Mustafi is reportedly going to cost around £30 million and he is also a more experienced player at 24-years-old. While Stones may be the more technically gifted player and one with Premier League experience, and so will not need time to adjust to the more physical element, he is also a player who could make a mistake.
Mustafi also seems like a more defensive choice at the back who can also pass the ball well, whereas Stones’ defensive ability and responsibilities seem to take a back seat when critics discuss the Englishman.
So perhaps the purchase of Mustafi is the better choice with Stones still very much the unfinished article.