England always looking for the next best player, and the face of ‘England’s saviour’ changes every 6 months it seems, Jack Rodwell, Andy Carroll and Phil Jones were once labeled England’s next best thing, and all three of their careers have taken a downwards spiral since their overhyped career start. with only one of them being at a Champions League club, albeit Phil Jones is still in Manchester United’s books by the skin of his teeth. Those were the starlets of yesterday, the current crop of players being called out are Raheem Sterling, who’s recently transferred to Manchester City for £44m, Harry Kane, who’s been heavily linked with 20 time league champions Manchester United and more recently, John Stones, who’s been subject to multiple bids from Chelsea. Since Rio Ferdinand and John Terry’s retirement from international football, England have been incredibly shaky in terms of a strong centre-half partnership and have tried a plethora of combinations and none of them have really proved themselves worthy to command guaranteed starters. However two new names that have been recently thrown into the cauldron, Evertonion John Stones and and ex Sporting Lisbon man Eric Dier. The two have been widely regarded to become fine defenders and maybe even be of Ferdinand and Terry’s ilk and make England’s back line solid again.
John Stones was born in Barnsley and joined the South Yorkshire’s youth academy at a young age and progressed though the ranks, before signing up as a professional in December of 2011 and impressing the club at youth level. He made his first team debut in the Championship in the form of a 2nd half substitution in the midst of receiving a 0-4 thrashing from Reading in March 2012. He did later score on his first start for the club the next season in the league cup, scoring an equaliser in a game that ended 4-3. Later that week he made his first league start against Middlesbrough, he went to go and make 25 league appearances for The Tykes before being linked with a move to various Premier League clubs in the 2013 January transfer window, eventually being secured by the blue side of Merseyside, Everton getting the Englishman on a £4m deal, although he was largely in the reserves for the Toffees, making the bench on three occasions. He made his debut for Everton later that year in August in the league cup against Stevenage, the game ending 2-1. He later made his first Premier League start against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on New Year’s Day 2014. He was in and out of the Everton side since making his debut, and impressed when he did step in for Roberto Martinez’s side and becoming a popular figure among the Goodison Park faithful. Just before the start of the 2014/15 season, Stones signed a new lucrative 5 year deal with the Toffees, which would keep him in Merseyside until 2019. This was Stones’ season to flourish, as Sylvain Distin entered his late 30’s and was slowly fazed out the team and with retirement almost certainly looming for the Frenchman, gave Stones the ultimate opportunity to step up and leave his mark. He started well, although sustained an injury against Manchester United, which ruled him out for 14 weeks. During his recovery, he was nominated for the Golden Boy award, which he lost out to Raheem Sterling. He recently was a subject to 3 bids from Chelsea, the latest one being in excess of over £30m, which have all been rejected by Everton. Following the rejected bids John has since handed a formal transfer request to try and seemingly force a move away from Everton. The strengths in Stones’ play is his passing and blocking the ball, as well as having very good concentration. He had a 89.5% passing success rate last year as well and won on average 2.6 aerial duels a game and making 1.4 tackles a game.
Eric Dier was born on the 15th of the January 1994 in Cheltenham and spent the first decade or so of his life in England before his mother was offered a job in Portugal, being part of the catering staff for the 2004 European Championships and shifted the family to Portugal. The family lived there for 6 years after the Euros and planned to move back to England in 2010, but in the meantime Eric was spotted by Sporting scouts and was part of their well renown youth system which produced the likes of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Fenerbahce’s new recruit Luis Nani. The club offered Dier accommodation at their academy whilst his parents moved back to England. He was in Sporting Lisbon’s youth system for 9 years, from 2003 to 2012, signing a contract with the club in April 2010. Although he was already at their academy, they faced competition from Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United for Eric’s signature, he left the English giants out on the cold. After a few games in the reserves he was loaned out to Everton’s youth team in January of 2011 to the end of the Premier League season on a 6 month loan, he went on to make 10 appearances for Everton’s U18’s and lifted the U18 Premier League trophy with the Toffees. In August 2012 he made his debut for Sporting’s reserve team, Sporting Lisbon B, in Portugal’s 2nd tier and scored his first goal in the form of a free kick against Benfica’s B team in a 3-1 victory in November. A week later Dier made his debut for the first team and assisted the winner in a 1-0 win against Braga. He scored his first goal no sooner than a week later, in a 2-2 draw in the league. For the next two years he yo-yoed between the first and reserve team and played as a centre back and as a holding midfielder. After some rather impressive performances for Sporting, showcasing his ability and versatility, Tottenham Hotspur bought Eric Dier to back to England and into North London in a £4m deal on a 5 year contract and was somewhat thrown in the deep end, his competitive debut was against West Ham and coped very well, scoring the winner in a 1-0 win and scored against QPR the following week, making it 2 in 2 for Spurs. Eric Dier’s play style is very interesting as has a continental style of defending due to learning his trade in Portugal, which gives a refreshing aura with the Englishman. The strengths in Dier’s play are his passing, dribbling, and winning aerial duels as he won 2.4 aerial duels a game and 5 clearances a game on average last season as well as 1.4 tackles, highlighting his presence in a backline, even at such a young age. One weakness he has is his concentration, or lack of it sometimes, but is something which will hopefully improve with age and maturity.
Although Stones has been under heavy interest by both Manchester United and obviously Chelsea, I personally feel like Eric Dier is someone who has been slightly over looked and England’s next big thing as he has all the attributes to become a top player. However, should move to Chelsea from Everton and have John Terry to cast his wing over him, we could very well be looking at the next John Terry, for both Chelsea and for England.