John Stones: The Barnsley Beckenbauer
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10: John Stones of Manchester City signs a contract extension at Manchester City Football Academy on August 10, 2021, in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

2020/21 Premier League Champions. UEFA Champions League finalist. Euro 2020 finalist.

What better way to reward a season like that with a new contract, keeping him at the Etihad until 2026?

It has not been all smooth sailing for John Stones, however. This article takes a look at his journey through the footballing world, starting with his youth days, to where next for the established centre-back.

Young Stones

Some Manchester City supporters have dubbed Stones the "Barnsley Beckenbauer", with a young Stones starting his career in the Barnsley youth academy. 

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He signed his first professional contract in 2011, making his first-team debut in the March of 2012 in a 4-0 defeat to Reading in the Championship.

Stones scored his only goal for the Championship club in his first start, bagging the equaliser in the League Cup against Rochdale. He then made his first league start in a 1-0 win against Middlesborough, going on to make 28 appearances for the club.

The next step

Stones signed for Everton for the 2013/14 season for a reported £3million and was thrown straight into the senior squad.

Despite being an inconsistent starter for the majority of the season, Stones was still able to make 21 Premier League appearances and play every minute of 11 out of the last 12 games, only being dropped for matchday 38 against Hull City.

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The England international also played every minute of Everton's League Cup journey (although, they were knocked out in the third round) and three out of their four FA Cup matches before being knocked out by Arsenal.

A serial winner

Stones' time at City has been that of a rollercoaster, to say the least.

In his time as a Citizen, Stones has won the lot. Three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, four League Cups and two Community Shields. Everything but the elusive Champions League.

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Stones, during this time, had a dip in form and a loss of confidence, which saw the player be dropped by Pep Guardiola. The 2019/20 season was a tough one for Stones.

Plagued by injury, kept out of the side by young Eric Garcia (who was attempting to force a move to Barcelona), and Guardiola's lack of faith in the 27-year-old: these factors meant Stones recorded his lowest number of appearances in a season since signing for City back in 2016, with only 16 appearances (4 as a substitute).

The signing of Ruben Dias revived Stones' City career, reigniting a fire in him.

Stones was a major player in City's 2020/21 season, regaining the Premier League trophy and reaching the club's first-ever Champions League final. 

There were two stand-out performances last season for Stones:

Crystal Palace (H)

A 4-0 smashing win for City saw them end Crystal Palace's unbeaten run of three games.

As well as the clean sheet, he powered home his first and second Premier League goals for City. This came after much praise from Guardiola and being named December's Player of the Month.

The centre-back was a rock, and he was not going to crack under the pressure. City had turned their season around, and so had Stones.

Paris Saint Germain (H & A)

Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Marco Verratti. Stones had the answers to defend against all of these superstars. His partnership with Dias steered City through the semifinal, after defeating Erling Haaland's Borussia Dortmund, but fell short to Chelsea in the final.

Block, after block, after block. Stones put his body on the line, making sure he did everything in his power to help Citizens around the world see their club make it to a Champions League final.

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Not only that, he was a leader. Passion. Aggression. Emotion. It was contagious. The sight of Oleksandr Zinchenko on the final whistle spoke a thousand words. 

John Stones had earned the title - "The Barnsley Beckenbauer".