Pep Guardiola believes John Stones has settled following “personal issues”, with Manchester City’s manager backing the centre-back to consistently perform at his best again.
Guardiola signed Stones on taking charge in summer 2016, yet the defender has gradually lost a first-team placesince making 27 Premier League appearances in his first season at the club.
Stones excelled in Wednesday’s 1-0 win at Olympiakos that secured qualification for the Champions League knockout stage and Guardiola, whose side host Burnley on Saturday, expects him to follow with more impressive displays.
“I’m happy for John as he’s very professional,” he said. “We arrived together here, he [has been] injured and had personal issues but is now settled again and with his performance he’ll have the chance to show his quality in this team.”
Guardiola recruited the central defenders Rúben Dias and Nathan Aké in the most recent window and is pleased with how this added competition has enhanced the defence.
“The guys who play good are going to continue to play,” he said. “If they don’t make mistakes that cost a lot, they’ll have more chances, just like the guys up front: if they score they’ll have more chances. I judge the players on what they do in the present. It doesn’t matter about the past; you have to win your position every three days.
“There’ll be some players who will not be rotated but if they [the others] are playing good they have more chances to stay on the pitch. It depends on them – Rúben is playing every game as he doesn’t make mistakes, he leads the line, and does everything nearly perfect.”
Guardiola ruled out strengthening in the January window. “Not at all, I have a fantastic team to fight for all the titles,” he said.
Sergio Agüero, the club’s record goalscorer, is out of contract next summer and Guardiola spoke about the 32-year-old’s future. “He’s a guy who deserves, with the club, fair talks to do what is the best for him, for the club and for everyone,” said the manager.