If John Stones should value anybody’s wisdom on the merits of a move up the football food chain then they should be that of one who has walked a similar road.
Everton are reportedly holding out for £34m payday on their defender after turning down Chelsea’s latest bid £26m for his signature.
He is currently 8/13 to have swapped Goodison Park for Stamford Bridge before the end of the transfer window, while it’s 2/1 that he remains on Merseyside.
Stones has kept his counsel on proceedings thus far and has much to mull over in terms of the relative merits of staying put and moving on.
Luckily for him former Evertonian turned two-time double-winning centre-half Martin Keown has offered some pearls of wisdom, reprinted by the Daily Mail:
‘I think it’s very early days. He’s only really had one season in the Premier League and he hasn’t yet become a man.’
‘I feel he needs to stay at Everton because there are things he needs to work on in his game. I’d like to see him more commanding from crosses and set pieces.’
Stones has played a total 44 top-flight games for Everton over the past two campaigns and his precocious talent will undoubtedly need consistent game time to blossom to it’s fullest potential.
Moving to Chelsea, where he would likely battle Kurt Zouma for John Terry and Gary Cahill’s scraps, would hardly be conducive to working on the weaknesses Keown identifies in first-team combat.
The player turned pundit is well placed to give advice on developing Stones’ games, having rebuilt his career from the second tier after being released by Arsenal as a youngster.
By the time he sealed his Highbury return in 1993 (via a spell in the second division with Aston Villa, then Everton) he was the finished article and was quickly able to supplant ageing mainstay Steve Bould in the Gunners’ famous back four.