Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has compared Everton defender John Stones to Rio Ferdinand.
Pique is clearly still a keen follower of the Premier League – despite leaving Manchester United for Barcelona – and was keen to praise Stones in a wide-ranging interview in the Daily Telegraph.
“Rio Ferdinand and John Terry were the two main central defenders in England. Top level,” said Pique, who has won every major honour as a centre-half for Barcelona and Spain.
“Now I think John Stones is a really, really, good player. He will have a good career. He’s like Rio, a bit. He’s young and alongside him they probably need one who is more experienced. Jagielka is injured. But Smalling is playing well at Manchester United.
“Now the position of the centre-back is not just about defending or being nasty or tough. It’s about knowing how to play football, control the ball, pass and be more comfortable in possession. And this is something that 10 years ago [in England] they didn’t understand.
“Rio was the first one who did it. And now there is Stones, he’s one of the new generation who understand football not just as a defender.
“The centre-back is the first attacker, the first one who builds the attacking play. Then the ball goes to the midfield and the midfielders find the strikers.
“So the defenders start to generate and create the chances. It’s hard because it’s about changing everything to understand football. But it’s getting better [in England]. It’s a different philosophy.”