John Stones is the most expensive English defender in history after a £47 million move from Everton to Manchester City, but the young center-back is certainly doing his best to justify that giant price tag with great performances in the early stages of his City career.
Pep Guardiola wanted Stones' signing from the start, and the City manager clearly has a lot of trust in the player and wants to help his development. And even though they have been together for just over a month, Stones is already crediting his coach with his tactical and mental improvement.
"We can all regroup from putting it in row Z sometimes. From last season to the start of this season I'm realising when to do it. That's where I believe I have come on quite a lot as a player.
"I was doing things before and then afterwards I would think, 'Why have I done that? Why haven't I just put it out in row Z?' Already I can see a difference in my decision-making.
"I just want to keep improving, keep getting games under my belt. That's why I moved to City and, in my eyes, the best manager to work with in football. Hopefully he will bring me on leaps and bounds.
"I've been taking in a lot of information these last few weeks, trying to figure out how to fit in. But you have to keep improving as a player and as a person because you have to move on in life."
Source: Sky Sports
Someone who isn't that familiar with Pep Guardiola's style may find it hard to believe the manager wants Stones to kick the ball out of play given that Pep loves possession so much. But Guardiola isn't crazy, and the reason why his possession-based style works so well is because he doesn't overuse it; there are times where you just can't keep the ball, and some circumstances ask for a clearance to Row Z for the players to regroup and occupy their positions on defense.
John Stones is clearly improving on that front, and working with Guardiola has helped him realize that even though he's a very techincal center-back, he's still a center-back and needs to play like one. And if the player and the manager continue to work well together, then Stones will be worth every penny for City.