England defender struggled to live up to £47.5m fee in first year at the Etihad
JOHN STONES has admitted his £47.5million price tag was a heavy burden during a tough first season at Manchester City.
The England centre-back became one of the world’s most expensive defenders when he left Everton last summer.
Stones had some difficult days — most notably his return to Goodison Park in January where City were humiliated 4-0.
And he was also left out of the team several times by boss Pep Guardiola.
But, as he prepares for the new season, Stones is convinced the tough times will make him stronger.
He said: “People focus on the transfer fee but that’s football. It’s all part of the game.
“If you are focused and driven as I am, I don’t think the outside influences should have an effect.
“I am not saying that it doesn’t, though. Every player has been there, or been through a bad patch.”
Stones put pressure on himself to justify Guardiola’s faith — and it hurt that he failed to live up to the billing.
The defender added: “For me, it’s not about what comes from the outside.
“It’s about me knowing I haven’t done my job as well as I should have done.
“It’s about making mistakes in games and probably beating myself up more than I should do, really.
“You take it out on yourself because you think you have let your team-mates down and yourself down, that’s what hurts.”
Many believe Stones will benefit hugely from playing alongside Etihad captain Vincent Kompany — providing the Belgian can stay fit.
Yet the 6ft 2in ex-Barnsley man knows if he is to achieve his ambitions, it must come from within.
He added: “To have Vinny back as the captain and the leader of the club is great for us.
“But I’m a big enough lad to know I should just get over it and do what I have to do, by getting out on the training pitch and correcting the faults.
“I think a lot of things can get overlooked and a lot of emphasis is put on the mistakes, rather than the good things. Maybe 60-70 per cent of the season is positive but that’s how football works and it probably happens too much.
“What matters is how I feel, if the manager is happy and my family are happy — that’s who I should listen to.
“But you grow more knowledgeable during the time you play in the Premier League.
“Every new manager, new chapter, has been a learning curve.
“Pep has given me a lot of confidence and tips and pointers, not only him but players as well.
“These are the guys who have won trophies and is what I’m aspiring to do.”
Meanwhile, Guardiola has confirmed he would still like to bring in another centre-back after selling Aleksandar Kolarov to Roma for £5.25m. The City chief is likely to use Stones, Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi this season — and looks unlikely to play Eliaquim Mangala, Jason Denayer or Tosin Adarabioyo.
Pep has already spent £210m this summer on Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Kyle Walker, Danilo, Benjamin Mendy and Douglas Luiz.
The Etihad chief admits funds may now be limited and added: “We don’t have too much to spend but we are going to see.
“We are happy with John, Nico and Vinny but if the market gives us a chance, we are going to try.”
City could have another look at Bayern Munich’s Holger Badstuber, who they almost signed in January. Real Sociedad’s Inigo Martinez is another target.
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