Four facts about John Stones

HE LEARNT THE BARCA WAY... AT BARNSLEY

John Stones joined his local club Barnsley aged eight and quickly showed he liked to attack as well as defend and was comfortable on the ball.

"We have a good playing style and we try to get our defenders to step into midfield. Gone are the days when you can just head and kick it," one of the youth team coaches Mark Burton said last year.

Stones equated their ethic to the heady heights of Barcelona, saying: "From the age of 16 in the youth team at Barnsley, we used to play out from the back and they always wanted to put that stamp on us, like Barcelona, I guess, with a lot of passing football."

MOYES' CHOSEN ONE

His burgeoning talent caught the eye of David Moyes at Everton and the Scot brought him to the Premier League for £3 million (S$5.25 million) in January 2013.

Three years on, Moyes, who barely played Stones before he moved on to Manchester United, purred positively about his protege.

"John is very comfortable on the ball, which gives the side a good starting point. He'll go on to great things, I have no doubt about that," he told the Daily Mail.

PERFECT MIX OF TERRY AND FERDINAND

Stones holds former England centre-backs John Terry and Rio Ferdinand as the standard he must reach, but he also admits he needs to mix the uncompromising tackling of the former with the fluidity on the ball of the latter.

"I'm trying to get that mixture. I think from last season to this season, there's been a big difference and definitely that mixture between smooth passing and tough defending is going to be a good recipe for my game," he said.

A RARE BREED

Former Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard says Stones is a once-in-a-generation talent.

"I think you're looking at a world class centre-back in the next five years," he said.

"When you have a young player who doesn't understand what pressure is, shrugs off criticism, he's brilliant."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2016, with the headline 'Four facts about John Stones'. Print Edition | Subscribe