Pep Guardiola said he “likes the way he plays the game” after signing John Stones in a £47.5 million deal from Everton.
Stones, 22, has settled in well at the Etihad Stadium, appearing in every game this season and already showing improvement under Guardiola.
He’s even been spoke about as the next Gerard Pique. Those comparisons are pretty wild at the moment but the fact remains that City, and England, have an exciting talent on their hands.
Yet for all the promise, Stones wasn’t Guardiola’s first choice when it came to eyeing a new centre back.
Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte has earned rave reviews for his performances in Spain and has been linked with Europe’s elite teams, including Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United.
However, it was Manchester City who had the opportunity to speak with Laporte in the summer. Yet they weren’t able to seal the deal.
Pros and cons
"How did I say no to Pep? By looking at the pros and cons,” Laporte told French radio station RTL, via Sky Sports.
"I spoke with him for a long time, as well as with my club. I also looked at my family, my entourage.
"It wasn't too early. It was just pros and cons - amount of time on the pitch, me recovering from injury.
“These aren't easy things to think about at my age. In the end, I had to make a choice. I did, and I'm happy."
Journalist Ian Holyman has added that Laporte, who has been called up to the France squad for the first time, wanted to “thank” Athletic.
The youngster has been at San Mames since 2010, when he joined Athletic’s youth system before going on to play for its farm team, Basconia.
Athletic probably didn’t expect Laporte to stay this long, especially with so many high-profile suitors. Yet he signed a contract extension in June that lasts until 2020 and increases his buyout clause from €50 million to €65m.
A statement on the Basque club’s website confirmed that Laporte’s buyout clause will rise by another €5m in 2018-19.
It’s therefore easy to see him becoming the most expensive defender in history one day, surpassing the £50m fee Paris Saint-Germain paid for David Luiz in 2014.
With Vincent Kompany’s injury problems, Nicolas Otamendi failing to grasp the Premier League and Eliaquim Mangala out of the picture, it could even be City who splashes the cash on him.