John Stones enjoying his football at Man City: ‘I want to keep improving’

Manchester City’s and England international John Stones is loving life at the club but the former Everton defender believes he can get even better.

City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to eight points on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal as rivals Manchester United slipped up at Chelsea.

Stones, 23, has been in great form this season with City conceding just seven goals from their opening 11 matches but he believes he can get even better.

Manchester City completed the signing of Stones from Everton in 2016 for £47.5 million on a six-year deal with a potential extra £2.5 million in add-ons, making the Barnsley star world’s second most expensive defender in history, behind Chelsea’s David Luiz.

The announcement of John Stones followed shortly after the leaking of his arrival, having been included in City’s 2016/17 Champions League play-off round squad registration list which UEFA had published on their website prior to his confirmation of the move. Through a 15% sell-on clause, Barnsley pocket £6.78 million from Stones’ deal to Manchester City, an amount Wikipedia marked larger than any transfer fee they had received in their history.

“It’s a compliment to ourselves that we have set that standard and want to keep at it,” he told reporters. “It’s almost impossible to do that every week and you might have a few percent down but as long as we give our all and the fans can see that, we won’t go far wrong in how we defend and attack, and the commitment is never questionable.

“As defenders we want more clean sheets and we should have had one against Arsenal — but we have stopped a top-quality strike-force really. We kept them to minimal chances.

“It’s 100 percent about enjoyment as well. It’s a joy to play in this team, and when you are winning and the boys are playing as they are, it’s hard to describe.”

Stones has struck up a strong partnership at the heart of the defence with Argentinian centre-back Nicolas Otamendi with the duo starting all-but one of City’s 15 Premier League and Champions League matches together.

Per WhoScored, Manchester United’s Phil Jones from the current Premier League top four has bettered Stones at the centre-back this season so far with Jones amassing 7.21 ratings winning 2.1 aerial duels in 11 appearances for the Red Devils this campaign. Stones, however, is rated at 7.02 with 1.6 of aerial duels won.

Current Premier League top-four team centre-back ratings. (Credit: WhoScored.com)

However, Stones strong bond with Otamendi will be split up for City’s next fixture after the international away to Leicester City when Otamendi is suspended although Pep Guardiola will be hoping to have captain Vincent Kompany back from injury.

“It’s massive if we lose anyone through injury or suspension,” Stones added. “Every player, either playing or on the bench, is vital to us with the amount of games.

“With the rotation of the squad we all know everyone has a part to play in the season, no matter who it’s against.

“I didn’t know he was suspended but he’ll be a big miss because I’ve enjoyed playing with him and we’ve had a good run so far.”

Man City have made the best ever start of any Premier League club to a season with 31 points from a possible 33.

Last season the Sky Blues won their opening 10 matches across all competition before their season tumbled but Stones hopes they have learnt from that disappointment.

“A lot of it is down to the preparation and post match,” he added. “The recovery we do, how we go about things in the few days before the next game, the staff keep us fit and healthy and keep that mental state, the winning run.

“That comes from everyone, the hunger, the fight — the boys have won titles and are hungry to do it again. That’s driving us on.

“For people like me who haven’t won anything it’s all about progressing, getting as many points as we can and hopefully to achieve our targets which is to get silverware.”

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