The Catalan issued a memorable seal of approval to the defender at the weekend and the feeling from the City defender is mutual
John Stones says he is learning every day under Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
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Stones has performed inconsistently since joining City from Everton for an initial £47.5million last August, with some high-profile errors derailing his progress.
But the 22-year-old impressed during Sunday’s action-packed 1-1 draw against Liverpool – drawing effusive, if eyebrow-raising, praise from Guardiola, who said the centre-back “had more balls than everybody here in this room,” at a post-match news conference.
Guardiola was particularly impressed by Stones’ commitment to building play and picking passes from deep and the player hopes to bring such talents to the fore with England, having joined up with Gareth Southgate’s squad for matches against Germany and Lithuania this week.
Stones told Sky Sports News: “I’m trying to learn all the time, every day off of Pep at City and trying to bring those qualities – and things I’ve learned when we play week in-week out – to England.
“Obviously Gareth wants, and has wanted me in the past, to play out and be a defender first and foremost.
“I’m learning every day and I want to come here and learn some new things as well off the manager now he has got the role [permanently] and everyone else is doing the same thing.”
Speaking to reporters at England’s St George’s Park training base, Stones outlined similarities between his bosses and club and international level.
“I don’t think the managers are too different, which makes it easier for me,” he explained. “They both want to play football, they having great football brains and knowledge about the game.
“The fundamentals of what they want they get across really well and that makes it easier for us as players.
“Gareth has a great click with all the players, which is a great quality as a manager to have.
“Him being a central defender, for me working with him, just the little pointers you get during training – positionally and decision-making – has really helped me out.”
— England (@England) March 21, 2017
England face Germany in Dortmund on Wednesday, having beaten the world champions in Berlin last year.
However, that triumph was quickly forgotten as the Three Lions shambled to a last-16 exit from Euro 2016 at the hands of minnows Iceland and Stones does not want his international team-mates to forget the punishing low that ended Roy Hodgson’s tenure.
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“Gareth is trying to put his stamp on it and look back to what has happened in the past, which I think is vital,” Stones added, ahead of what will be his 16th cap if selected at Signal Iduna Park.
“We don’t just want to forget it; we want to learn from it and move on and hopefully get better from those experiences, both as a team and as individuals.”