Is John Stones worth £40m to Chelsea?
John Terry’s half-time substitution in Chelsea’s eventual 3-0 defeat to Manchester City will inevitably have sparked new debate about whether the London club should buy Everton’s John Stones and, if so, how much for.
The question that is asked is crucial to the answer we get. Really, the correct, though slightly long-winded, question we should ask is ‘can Stones fulfil whatever role he is bought to fill, and is his filling of that role worth £40m?’.
Given that we don’t know what role he may be being bought to fill, it’s difficult to answer that, but, in a strange kind of vicious circle, the price tag gives us an idea. If £40m is the cost, it is likely that Stones is being bought with the long-term very much in mind, probably something of an heir apparent to Terry.
While comfortable on the ball with a generally good positional sense, his awareness can be questionable. He will likely be a very good central defender, but it remains to be seen whether he will be more of a Gary Cahill than the Terry gold-standard that it seems Chelsea want in the young Evertonian. As with any young player, a large part of his price tag rests on this potential.
Another question is whether he will fit into the playing style at Chelsea. Within any team, there will be an extent to which lesser players can coast, and better players may underperform but still look good in most teams. It is likely though that one can optimise a transfer’s potential by bringing in a player who it is known can play in the current, or desired, system.
I have recently started some work on a prototype central defender profile (explained in more detail here: http://everyteamneedsaron.com/2015/08/13/central-defensive-profiles-an-update/) but it is fairly self-explanatory. Below is a comparison of Stones against Terry and Cahill last season. It should be noted that these are early steps and should not be taken as the absolute truth of these players or teams.
One can see that while Stones seems to have had little preference between tackling and intercepting, Terry and Cahill are largely skewed towards tackling more often, although this is likely to be an effect of their team defensive tactic. However, Stones seems to have a similar “proactiveness” level to the current Chelsea CBs, suggesting that he may be a similar ‘type’ of defender to them, in that respect at least.
As far as their teams went, Chelsea played a deeper line with a marginally higher likelihood to spring an offside trap. Crucially though, they were better protected than Stones was at Everton. While this may not be the same this season, it is likely to be the type of system that would help a young defender acclimatise and grow, particularly with Terry as an (on-pitch) mentor.
As the reported price tag rises, it is increasingly unlikely that Stones will fulfil it. He may be worth £40m to Everton but it is highly doubtful as to whether he is worth much more than half that to Chelsea. However, he will improve with age and be able to slot into their existing system, and, with Roman Abramovic writing the cheque, they can afford to pay whatever they feel like.
Read @ETNAR_uk’s previous article on what we learned from the 1st week in the Premier League, click here.