John Stones: Everton’s ‘new Rio Fedinand’ will be a Chelsea great
John Stones is football’s player in demand. The Everton and England defender is being stalked by Chelsea. The Londoners say Stones is worth £30m. Everton rejected an offer for that sum. They want more. He’s that good.
The Times‘ Jonathan Northcroft has bene speaking with David Moyes, the then Everton manger who signed Stones from Barnsley.
The scouts picked Stones. They told Moyes: “That young defender at Barnsley you’ve had us tracking — go and get him. He has a real chance.”
What did Moyes see?
“He looked this young, thin boy, but he had a natural comfort on the ball, a comfort that didn’t look coached or taught but was just something he’d got. You could see he’d need to get stronger and work on his speed, but his ability to take the ball was special. It’s something you don’t see a lot in British defenders and that’s what made him stand out. He’s the most comfortable English central defender on the ball I’ve seen since Rio Ferdinand. He reads the game and he’s calm in possession, a natural footballer. He has an ability to not look under any pressure.”
Moyes says Stones was bought for £1.25m.
“I have to give credit to my recruitment department at Everton. They were always looking exhaustively in the lower leagues. We always looked for British players, English talent, because that formed such a huge part of the identity of the club and the teams I built.
“We had John watched from the start of that season and the reports always came back positively and, because the deal was at the lower end of the financial scale, I was trusting my scouts anyway. But when I saw John for myself I didn’t take much convincing.”
Moyes reminds us that Stones is just 21.
“As a young boy, John took some risks, but his decision making got better and better and we played him at right-back for experience. He will need time and, at his age, he’ll make mistakes. There’ll be days he does things that he will learn from, so people need to be patient. But England could have a top, top centre-back if he’s allowed to develop.
“The way football is getting played now, the centre-backs have more touches than midfielders do. It’s often their job to start the moves and John’s attributes are perfect for that. And he’s got a good personality. He’s calm in himself and gets good support from his family. The first day he came in and said to our fitness guys ‘Whatever I have to do to get into the first team, I’ll do it’. He immediately impressed you as a likeable boy with a great aptitude for learning. Self-development is a vital quality in a young player.”
Stones is ambitious. He can’t stay at Everton. Chelsea look favourites to sign him. But surely we can expect others, chiefly Manchester United, to compete for his signature.