Rio Ferdinand has urged Everton defender John Stones to reject a move to Chelsea this summer in favour of a switch to Manchester United. His call comes as Jose Mourinho reportedly prepares a third a final bid for the centre-back worth £30million.
The Blues have been openly pursuing a deal for Stones this summer, but have so far seen two bids of £20m and £26m knocked back by Roberto Martinez. However, the 21-year-old is reportedly keen to join his fellow England international Gary Cahill as well as former England captain John Terry at Stamford Bridge.
Ferdinand, also a former England captain, believes Stones would be making a big mistake if he moves to west London, citing the fact that Terry and Cahill are still well established in defence. In comparison, Stones could join Manchester United where he would instantly become a first choice for Louis van Gaal.
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“If he goes to Man United, he plays every week so that’s the right club for him,” Ferdinand said, according to the Guardian. “If he goes to Chelsea, he’s not playing every week. He’s at that stage of his development where he wants to play every week. If you say to any young footballer to leave a club to sit on the bench, you’ve got to be a lunatic. You have to be.”
While the prospect of competing with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones is less daunting that Cahill and Terry, Stones still carries less experience than the Manchester United defenders. The former Barnsley player is yet to play in the Champions League and has just four senior England caps to his name.
The real deal
In comparison, Jones and Smalling have 17 and 18 caps respectively, while both have been competing in Europe's premier competition since they arrive at Old Trafford in 2011 and 2010. However, Ferdinand is certain he has already seen enough potential in Stones' game to know he is the real deal.
“He’s very good on the ball,” said Ferdinand. “I took a real interest in him and watched him at Loftus Road against Bobby Zamora, who gave most centre-halves problems last season physically, and he handled Bobby well, and that physical element. That was one of the areas that I hadn’t really seen him under pressure with and he looked up for that battle. With all the other stuff he’s got, he’s got a real good chance.”
United's defensive woes
Ferdinand spent 12 years playing for Manchester United, but never featured under Van Gaal. The Dutchman inherited what is arguably one of the Red Devils' least impressive defensive lines in Premier League history.
"They don’t know if Chris Smalling is going to be fit, if Phil Jones, Jonny Evans or Marcos Rojo are going to be fit"
As a fan of the club, Ferdinand would naturally prefer to see Van Gaal spend some of his money upgrading the backline, but the 36-year-old, who this season will be working full-time as a football expert and presenter for BT Sport, thinks United's defensive frailties are in part down to Van Gaal's inability to decipher his best players.
“I don’t think [Van Gaal] knows his best defence – that’s a problem in itself,” he said. “Part of the reason he doesn’t know it is because he hasn’t had a chance to watch them all play over a long time – consistently for 12 or 15 games. If you don’t get that familiarity between you as defenders, it’s difficult to build foundations.
“I played with [Nemanja] Vidic for six years with no fitness problems between us. I woke up on a Saturday knowing that Vida was going to be fit and he was the same with me. At the moment these guys aren’t doing that. They don’t know if Chris Smalling is going to be fit, if Phil Jones, Jonny Evans or Marcos Rojo are going to be fit. So how can you start to build relationships? That’s been part of the problem for Van Gaal.”