Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Haaland, De Bruyne sidestepped as Ferdinand lauds ‘magnificent’ Man City star who’s crucial to title charge

Man City duo Julian Alvarez and John Stones

Man City star John Stones has received big praise

Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne are not the only key Manchester City players pushing the club towards yet more silverware, as Rio Ferdinand has sung the praises of versatile defender John Stones.

The England international was brilliant last season as he stepped into a hybrid defence/midfield role that allowed Man City to dominate matches on their way to an historic treble. Stones made 34 appearances in all competitions as Pep Guardiola’s side won the Champions League for the first time, while also triumphing in the Premier League and FA Cup.

Stones has been left frustrated this term, as fitness issues have prevented him from having a major impact on City’s campaign.

Although, the 29-year-old is now back in the first-team fold, having played a full 90 minutes in two of City’s last three league matches.

That includes an appearance in the 2-0 victory over his former club Everton on Saturday, during which Haaland netted the crucial goals.

After the match, ex-Man Utd star Ferdinand hailed Stones for his composed performances.

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“John Stones in particular, he brings a calmness and assuredness to this team,” the pundit said on TNT Sports (10/02, at 14:50). “Last season he was magnificent in the run-in in that new midfield role. Today he was more defensive-minded but he’s got that experience now.

“He was here when Pep came in that first season, he’s been ever-present since. When you have that experience on the pitch, in games like today where you’re not functioning properly, you’re not getting loads of shots off, inexperienced players can panic – not with those guys [Stones and De Bruyne] on the pitch.”

Former City defender Joleon Lescott was also on TNT Sports’ coverage of the game. When asked about how much more tactical flexibility Stones gives Guardiola, Lescott replied: “So much more. We’ve seen him going into midfield and [other teams] have to combat that. When other players go in there you can still have a similar setup but when Stones is in there, his ability to turn and play forward…

“You never see him in there to add an extra body, he’s in there to create opportunities, keep the ball and dictate the tempo.”

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