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Why is John Stones the answer for Chelsea’s defensive problems

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According to the latest round of reports, Manchester City centre-back John Stones could be available this summer as little as €20m. 

Chelsea are reportedly preparing a bid to sign the young English centre-back after Manchester City announced the signing of Nathan Ake for a reported fee of £41m. The signing will not come as a good sign for Stones who is now further down in the pecking order for centre-back options.

In 2016, City signed Stones for for £47.5 million on a six-year deal with a potential extra £2.5 million in add-ons, making him the world’s second most expensive defender in history at the time.

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But this season, he has played only 1119 minutes in the league, the lowest of his City career. After a string of disappointing performances, Pep has preferred playing youngster Eric Garcia, Fernandinho and even Rodri at times in the 19-20 campaign.

Frank Lampard has made a good start at Chelsea, finishing fourth in his first season and in the process qualifying for the Champions League despite selling Eden Hazard and dealing with a transfer-ban. But defensively they have looked pretty shaky letting in 54 goals, which is the most conceded by a team in top half of the league table.

John Stones has had a pretty solid campaign despite receiving criticism from fans and pundits alike. Let’s look at his Premier League stats in 2019-20:

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Tackles & interceptions completed: 1.6
Clearances made: 1.9
Dribbles past: 0.1 per match
Average passes completed: 64.7
Passing accuracy: 94.2%
Long balls completed: 3.3

These statistics clearly indicate that John Stones is not in decline but he does lack the support and trust of the manager. He has also suffered two separate injuries resulting in absence for 12 matches.

So how can John Stones improve Chelsea’s defense:

From the first season we can clearly notice that Frank Lampard wants his team to play in a particular style: playing out from the back and moving the ball into forward areas through the midfield. Even without the ball his teams have tended to focus on pressing the opposition in an aggressive manner.

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His current centre-back pairings Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma and Antonio Rüdiger have failed to produce good performances on a consistent basis. Often we have seen during this season that he given the ball cheaply and failed to clear the threats on multiple occasions.

Stones who is known for his technical ability and physical presence will perfectly fit into one of the centre-back slots. His ball-playing ability can help Chelsea transition the ball from defense into offense quickly.

Chelsea’s back-line has faced many problems due to a non-existent presence of a defender who is calm in difficult situations and Stones could be the answer to this puzzle as well.

His current Manchester City and England teammate Kyle Walker spoke about his importance to the teams saying, “You don’t quite appreciate him until you are playing alongside him. He rarely gets beat, he is great on the ball and he is very calm and level-headed”

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Apart from being a calming presence in the defense, Stones’s range of passing,vision and versatility will help him adapt to life at Stamford Bridge pretty easily as well. Manchester City’s loanee player liaison agent Joleon Lescott heaped praise on his fellow countrymen saying,

“John can do things most defenders can’t – a little feign here and there, maybe a turn to get out of trouble when he needs to – and that’s what is going to set him apart from others – the ability to do things others can’t. He’ll do his job and defend well, but there will be moments when he does something special and you’ll just go ‘ah, that’s why he’s regarded as the best.’ He doesn’t seem to get fazed by anything and always seems calm and he never hides.”

John Stones must leave leave the Ethiad Stadium in order to compete for a starting spot in Gareth Southgate’s team at EUROS 2021. If continues to stay in Manchester his potential will remain unfulfilled.

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