Stones, the last genius of Guardiola

In the summer of 2016, Pep Guardiola arrived at Manchester, and with him a handful of players whom the Catalan had his eye on in the face of his new adventure in the Premier League. One of them, one of the first to put himself under the orders of the Catalan was John Stones. A central defender who began to attract attention with Everton, due to his solvency both in the air and because of his comfort with the ball at his feet. He was 22 years old at the time. He pointed ways and Guardiola began to shape him.

However, as the months went by, the injuries followed one another. And his performance accused him. He enjoyed crucial interventions, such as his stretch to take a ball over the line against Liverpool, an action that ended up tipping the balance in favor of Mancuniano in the fight for the title. The good role played by the subsequent signings for the City defense did not help either. Aymeric Laporte first, and then Rúben Dias they separated him to the bench with his performances.

John Stones has had to find his place to establish himself at City. And he has done it this season, becoming Guardiola’s latest genius. The coach, as he did at Barcelona with Dani Alves, at Bayern with Philip Lahm and later at City with Joao Cancelo, gave a twist to one of his trademarks. It is no longer the winger who looks out at the midfielder, but the center back. John Stoneswho had previously worked as a winger, was chosen in this case.

During the days leading up to the Istanbul final, the defender was satisfied with his versatility: “I have needed to learn new skills and that makes him appreciate players who are in other positions and that he understands them better, that he knows when to pass the ball and when to do it. I loved it”. His presence in midfield and the ease with which he receives and passes the ball help free Rodrigo and add even more men to the attack.

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Gone are the troubles of the past. Defeats and bad moments that, according to Stones, should serve as learning to go a step further and win the Champions League. One of those painful memories, on a collective level, was the final loss against Chelsea in 2021. “For me they were probably the hardest months of my career”, explained the footballer in the preview of Saturday’s duel. “We lost the Champions League final and then I lost in the Eurocup final. It was difficult and I tried not to think about it too much, but now we have to use that loss as part of the learning process. We have to use that experience and that pain to our advantage.”

It would be the icing on the cake, and Manchester City would equal its neighbor Manchester United, the only club to date to win the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League. Stones prepares to dispute “probably the most important match in the club’s history”, According to the footballer himself, who aims to be one of the protagonists after turning his situation around at City to end up being one of the highlights of the course: “I thought that maybe I would not play with England again, and then I won five times the Premier League, the FA Cup, and all the things he would never have dreamed of achieving. Now I can dream of winning the Champions League”.

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