Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits John Stones is struggling to fulfil his potential, insisting the defender must stay fit and play regularly as he bids to improve.
The England international moved to the Etihad in a £47.5m deal from Everton in 2016, but has yet to truly kick on and has featured in just over half of the Man City‘s fixtures since his arrival at the club.
The 25-year-old has made just 12 appearances in all competitions so far this season and has not featured since the club’s Manchester derby defeat last month, and Guardiola believes Stones must now show he can play consistently if he is to reach his potential to be one of the world’s best in the coming years.
“He has the conditions to do it,” said Guardiola at his pre-match press conference. “But to be the best central defender you have to play one entire season, every three days being there.
“It depends on him. It’s in his hands and in his head to become one of the best.
“It’s difficult to reach the potential that he has, he has to be at the level to play regularly. The last three-and-a-half seasons he couldn’t do it.
“It’s difficult to know the reason why. Sometimes when you have a tough injury, for example like Aymeric Laporte this season, Ilkay Gundogan in the first season or Benjamin Mendy the first year he arrived, it’s unlucky.
“That can happen. But, in the case of John, I don’t know.
“I don’t know why he’s not able, why we’re not able, for him to be a regular for a long, long period, because he’s a young player.”