The 2022-23 Premier League season is drawing to a close, many football pundits and royalties already have their nominees for their preferred Premier League player of the season. Many have strikers and attacking midfielders as their choices, but there is one player who is underrated this season and qualifies to be the Premier League Player of the Season.
John Stones, the 28-year-old Manchester City defender has changed the course of City’s season and deserves all the credit for his subtle, yet important contribution to Manchester City’s illustrious season.
Since his introduction as a hybrid midfielder, Stones has revolutionized how City has been playing. His awareness, tactical brilliance, technical prowess, and defensive stability have made Pep Guardiola’s team become a force to reckon with
It was back in December 2022, when Guardiola made a formation tweak by introducing the 3-2-4-1 formation which required the right full-back to play a hybrid role. By then, Joao Cancelo was not Seeing Eye to eye with Pep, the only option in that role was the teenage sensation, Rico Lewis.
Kyle Walker according to Pep could not perform the role as required, hence not an option.
“He cannot do it. He will always have pace; Kyle at 60 years old will be the fastest player in this room. To play inside you have to have educated movements- he doesn’t have every one of the traits. He has played as a full-back coming inside in the past with four at the back. He has done really well but this shape of three at the back and two in the middle, he cannot do it.”
Lewis was exceptional but his slim physical appearance was a liability during turnovers, counterattacks, and possession loss. This made Pep call John Stones, and the rest was history.
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Stones had the appealing traits to play the role, but the action-bit of it was not yet proven. This hybrid role completed the missing piece of the Gig saw.
He made City control matches seamlessly. Their 4-1 win at home to Liverpool was a clear example of the Stone’s midfield effect.
His calm distribution and smart game management from the center of midfield allowed him to deliver effective display as part of a double pivot alongside Rodri.
Statistics from the Premier League website show that since the position shifts into the midfield, Stones has completed the most accurate passes and has lost possession the fewest.
PL’s most accurate passers 22/23
Least amount of possession lost 22/23
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Having won the Premier League with three games to spare, City is on the road to pure greatness. They are on the FA Cup Finals against Manchester United on June 3, 2023 and the Champions League Finals against Inter Milan June 10, 2023.
This has been mostly due to the balance and stability that Stones has brought. He is undoubtedly the Premier League player of the season.