England U21 coach Gareth Southgate has praised Everton centre-back John Stones, as the defender continues to be linked heavily with a move to Old Trafford.
Stones featured for England at the U21 European Championships, and despite the side’s early elimination, the centre-back was one of the squad’s players who emerged without criticism.
In fact, Southgate has seen enough in Stones to suggest to him that the Toffees stopper is among the best young players in his position in Europe.
“He’s the type of player that, were he Portuguese and German, we’d be saying, why can’t be produce players like that?” the former England defender began, speaking to TheFA.com.
“The Euro Finals were a huge part of their education and if you look at John in possession, he was as good as any player in the tournament,” however, Southgate admitted that there were still areas of the defender’s game that needed improvement.
“But there are other parts that need to develop and that’s going to take time as he’s still learning it.
“He’s in a position where mistakes can lead to goals, so a few might go in along the way, but he’ll keep learning from that and improve.”
Stones featured 23 times for Everton last season, in something of a breakout campaign, and competently replaced Sylvain Distin in the heart of the Toffees defence.
However, it remains to be seen whether the 21-year-old will still be at Goodison Park beyond the summer.
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The centre-back—who already has four senior caps—has been linked heavily with a move to Manchester United.
According to the Daily Mail, the Red Devils are keen on the young centre-back and are intent in securing his signature before the Blue signs for one of United’s rivals.
Chelsea are also understood to be keen on the centre-back [Daily Mail], although the fact that Stones was a Red Devils fans as a boy may well play into Louis van Gaal’s hands.
The Dutch coach may well see Stones as an upgrade on Jonny Evans, with the Northern Irish centre-back tipped with a move away from Old Trafford. Both Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion have been linked to his signature.