John Stones moved from Everton to Manchester City for nearly £50 million earlier this month, and made his debut in a 2-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday.
The 22-year-old has come under criticism for his composed approach in the last few months, yet Gary Neville, talking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, defended his risky style.
“I’m delighted he’s gone to Manchester City, to Guardiola,” said Neville on MNF. “It’s the best club for him at the moment with the manager they have.
“In the past six months there has been so much criticism of John Stones - about what he shouldn’t do, about how he shouldn’t play — rather than celebrating what he is, that he’s willing to take big chances at the back on the ball.
“That he’s willing to pass out from the back, get on the ball as deep as possible, bring other players in, play passes into midfield. There’s been a lot of discouragement in the past six months.”
Neville continued, citing his former Manchester United teammate, who was bullied at Old Trafford then massively improved under Guardiola at Barcelona, as a player Stones could evolve into.
“It reminds me of six, seven, eight years ago, a player exposed to Guardiola,” told Neville. “It was a young Gerard Pique. You see a lot of Stones in Pique - a person who's not filled his shirt yet.
“Pique has become a monster, he’s stronger, he’s taller, he’s more experienced. He’s been encouraged to play and to be himself.
“That’s the work that’s been done with him and he’s obviously played in a fantastic team at Barcelona. Pep Guardiola will try to create that same type of team and player at Manchester City.”
Despite some disapproval, Stones is still one of the most promising defenders in the country.
Whilst he didn’t have the best campaign at Everton last year, City fans should be excited to see what he will bring to the side.
As Neville said, working under one of the best managers in the world with a great reputation of developing young players and a system to suit his style, Stones will only get better.