Transfer Opinion: Moyes should be cautious of £20m defensive swoop

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Only four sides conceded more goals than West Ham during the 2018/19 campaign, three of them were relegated. The other team who let in more goals than the Irons’ 62, were their final day opponents Aston Villa, 67, who stayed in the division by the skin of their teeth and a single point.  Clearly improving the defence will be one of David Moyes’ top-priorities this summer but he will have to do so carefully.

It’s been suggested that West Ham are the frontrunners for John Stones with the Manchester City defender set to cost the Hammers £20m. But Moyes should be very cautious of bringing to former Everton defender to the London Stadium, as he has struggled in Manchester of late and it’s been suggested Pep Guardiola has lost faith in him.

Despite Aymeric Laporte missing 30 matches this season through injury, Stones has started just 12 Premier League matches. In his place, Fernandinho has plugged the gap at centre back on 29 occasions, which must be a crushing blow for the defender that his manager has used a midfielder out of position ahead of him.

Stones has had some injury issues of his own missing 12 matches. Still, even when he has featured, the 26-year-old Englishman has not lived up to the Brazilian’s level, averaging one tackle per game to the 35-year-old’s 1.7, in the Premier League.

Additionally, Eric Garcia, 1.4, Laporte, 1.3, Nicolas Otamendi, 0.9, and Fernandinho, 0.8, have all registered more interceptions per match than Stones’ 0.6. The fact that the England international has been recording fewer interceptions that his teammates epitomises how he may not read the game as well as the other players in Guardiola’s squad.

One area of Stones’ game which has often been praised is his tremendous ability in possession and once again this season he has been fantastic on the ball, averaging 64.7 passes per match. What is perhaps even more impressive is that no Manchester city player who’s started a Premier League match has kept a higher pass success percentage than the 26-year-old’s almost immaculate 94.2 per cent.

However, on the rare occasions when he does give the ball away, Stones has been known to make some catastrophic high-profile errors, such as the one which saw him gift the Netherlands a goal in the Nations League for the Three Lions. For that reason, if Moyes wants a defensive rock, then Stones might not be his man, but if he is looking to play out from the back, then he should proceed ahead and snap Stones up.

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