As one of the hottest prodigies in English football, John Stones is certainly a man in demand. Not since the emergence of a young Rio Ferdinand have we seen a player so graceful at centre back, and given his elevation into the England senior team, it’s clear to see why Chelsea are prepared to pay in excess of £30 million to land their man.
Roberto Martinez is beyond determined to keep his prized asset and build a team around Stones. However, the South Yorkshireman has refused to commit his future and a transfer request has now been lodged.
But, should Stones decide to force through a move to the Champions, would he be making the right call?
Simply the best
They’re loved and hated in equal measure but the opportunity to work with the best manager and the greatest centre back of the modern era may prove hard to resist. In Jose Mourinho and John Terry, Stones will have a coach and a mentor capable of making him the greatest defender in Europe.
Cahill + Stones = Happy Hodgson
If Mourinho feels that John Terry’s body is no longer able to cope with the rigours of Premier League football, Stones may sense the opportunity to develop a strong understanding with Gary Cahill. A solid centre back pairing already operating at club level will be music to the ears of Roy Hodgson, enhancing Stones’ chances of starting for England sooner rather than later.
The Bright Lights of the Champions League
Every football player wants to experience the crème da la crème of European football and pit their wits against the very best Europe has to offer. Champions League football at Chelsea is a given and Stones will only benefit from playing against the likes of Ronaldo, Suarez and Messi.
Chance of a lifetime
It’s not every day the Premier League Champions come calling for your services. And it’s not every day a club is prepared to spend £30 million on an unproven defender – the Chelsea hierarchy clearly hold Stones in high regard and view him as the natural successor to John Terry. But Mourinho doesn’t like to be messed around – he won’t call again should Stones reject his advances.
Chelsea’s involvement in four competitions will give Stones the opportunity to showcase his talents. However, should we see the same formidable centre back partnership of last season, Mourinho will be reluctant to drop Cahill or Terry for the big games in the League and in Europe given their huge experience. Stones may have to settle for sporadic appearances in the two cup competitions and long periods warming the bench, not ideal for a young player in need of regular playing time to learn his trade.
England Prospects Jeopardised
Given England’s lack of options at centre back and the emergence of a reliable partnership in which Roy Hodgson can rely upon, Stones has a real chance to not only stake a place in upcoming England squads, but to put himself forward for a first team place with next summer’s European Championships just around the corner. A lack of playing time will prevent Stones from starting for England anytime soon, and may even scupper his place in the squad altogether
Playing for a top four side brings a different kind of pressure with individual performances scrutinized intensely. Stones will already be in the spotlight for the hefty price tag he will potentially carry. One bad game or one mistake and Stones will have to cope with criticism like never before.
Jose and the English
He may be one of the best managers around and he may win trophies for fun but, Terry and Lampard aside, Mourinho hasn’t had much success when it comes to developing English players. Consider the careers of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joe Cole, Wayne Bridge and Scott Parker before joining Chelsea, and how they fared under the Portuguese. Maybe something for Stones to ponder?
In order for John Stones to blossom into the player he is destined to become, he cannot be sat twiddling his thumbs on the substitute’s bench at Chelsea. Despite a poor defensive showing so far this season there is no guarantee of a first team slot under Mourinho.
At least one more year at Everton will do Stones no harm at all. Regular football and the chance to start for England at next summer’s European Championships come hand in hand. For the time being at least, Stones must put Chelsea’s interest to the back of his mind and focus on sticking with the Toffees.