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Is John Stones really worth £30m?

Chelsea have submitted a third bid for the 21-year-old defender.

Stones has made 4 appearances for England.
Stones has made 4 appearances for England.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

JOSÉ MOURINHO’S CHELSEA side have made their worst start to a Premier League season in 17 years — struggling to a point against Swansea in their opening game and then suffering a humiliating defeat to title rivals Manchester City.

The major talking point from the game has been the substitution of captain John Terry at half-time. People are already speculating that this decision might signal the beginning of the end for Terry, while others are arguing about whether the tactical change even had the desired effect.

Once you get over the shock of seeing the former England captain substituted for the very first time under Mourinho, it’s clear to see why he made the decision. The centre-back pairing of Terry and Gary Cahill were being routinely exposed. They faced a forward four of Aguero, Sterling, Silva and Navas — quick, technical players that were exploiting their lack of pace and finding space in behind them.

That most recent defeat has prompted Chelsea to make a third bid for Everton defender John Stones, rumoured to be in the region of £30m. The champions have already failed with two offers, believed to be worth £20m and £26m, and Roberto Martinez is adamant Stones will not be sold this summer.

But with Roman Abramovich reportedly prepared to back Mourinho in the transfer market, it seems inevitable that they will get their man. Now, the questions will be asked — Is John Stones really worth £30m and why are Chelsea so determined to get him?

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Everton v Watford - Goodison Park Stones battles for the ball with Watford's Troy Deeney during their opening day fixture. Source: Nigel French

There are some who would argue that a move to Chelsea would be a mistake at this point in his development. Mourinho’s side already have three centre-backs — Cahill, Terry and Kurt Zouma. Is Stones good enough to challenge for a starting place?

Judging by the first two performances of the season, there is a very good chance that he would. Every possible excuse has been used to explain away Chelsea’s lacklustre defensive displays — from their shortened pre-season preparations to the off-field drama with the physios.

The most popular choice is to suggest that age is finally catching up to the likes of Terry and Branislav Ivanovic. I think it’s too early to speculate on that, one way or the other, but one thing that is obvious is that Chelsea are lacking a certain type of defender.

Cahill and Terry are very similar stylistically. Terry, in particular, relies heavily on his ability to read the game and the use of physicality to compensate for his lack of pace. With the current crop of pacy forwards in the Premiership, Mourinho seems to be re-thinking his defensive philosophy. He is looking to players like Zouma and Stones, who are young, quick and confident on the ball.

Soccer - UEFA European Under-21 Championship - Group B - England v Italy - Ander Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport

It has become increasingly important in the modern game for defenders to be comfortable in possession. In Stones, Chelsea would be getting a player that loves to play on the front foot and passing just happens to be his best asset.

According to WhoScored.com, Stones’ pass success rate last season (89.5%) was the third best in the league among defenders. He has carried that impressive stat into this season, making 61 of his 67 attempted passes against Watford in his opening game. Compare this to Terry and Cahill, each of whom attempted just 35 passes against Swansea.

But it isn’t just his passing ability, Stones is well able to provide that physicality that Mourinho likes too. In terms of making decisions and positioning, especially in crossing situations, he nearly always takes up the perfect positions to deal with the danger. Really top class defenders know when to step up and make a challenge or sit back and hold position. I’m not saying Stones is the finished article by any stretch of the imagination but he does possess that quality.

The £30m fee definitely represents his potential more than anything else. He’s versatile and has played right-back in the past. Perhaps, Mourinho believes that he could be called on to fill in for Ivanovic if the Serb’s worrying form continues.

I’d expect Chelsea to further loosen the purse strings and sign Stones before the 1 September deadline. Although the fee is likely to be ridiculous, most transfers for English players are, Chelsea will be getting a player who has proven he is a capable Premier League performer and will only improve.

Do you think John Stones would be a good signing for Chelsea? 


Poll Results:

No - he is just another overrated English player (1265)
He should stay at Everton (932)
Yes - he has the potential to be a top-class defender (888)
Yes - he could go straight into their starting XI (368)




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About the author:

Donal Lucey

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