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Media Watch

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Media Watch: 'Lionheart Stones looks born to lead'

SOLID ROCK: John Stones garnered widespread praise for his display in England's UEFA Nations League draw in Croatia

SOLID ROCK: John Stones garnered widespread praise for his display in England's UEFA Nations League draw in Croatia

Saturday’s Media Watch kicks-off with some special praise for John Stones after another commanding display with England from the Manchester City centre half.

There’s also news of a fine goal for Brazil from Blues striker Gabriel Jesus, another salute to Phil Foden after his impressive England Under-21 debut… and a smidgen of transfer gossip.

But we begin with Stones, who along with Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling was part of the England team that fought out a 0-0 UEFA Nations League draw away in Croatia on Friday night.

It was a night of frustration overall for the Three Lions who spurned several excellent chances at a game played behind closed doors in Rijeka due to UEFA sanctions against the hosts.

Sterling and Walker both caught the eye but according to the Daily Mirror, the biggest positive for manager Gareth Southgate was yet another commanding display by Stones.

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So much so that Andy Dunn believes the Blues' centre-half demonstrated he has all the credentials to be a future England captain.

Dunn reports: “It was so quiet, you could hear John Stones reading the game.

“So quiet, you could hear his footballing brain whirring.

“Apart from the unique experience, there was not a whole load Gareth Southgate will take from this occasion

“Nor will Stones’ authoritative performance come as a surprise because this is a player Southgate believes in.

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“But if Southgate wanted a reminder of how Stones will be key to how he wants this squad to develop, he got one here.

“Leadership has been a buzzword around the England camp since Southgate took over.

“The manager has mentioned he needs leaders throughout the squad so many times, he does it on autopilot nowadays.

“On the eve of this silent movie, Stones had spoken about how the World Cup semi-final defeat still hurt, how three months had barely numbed the pain.

“Yet it is easy to forget Stones had an excellent tournament and represents the future not just of this England defence but this England team.

“Maybe it was a surface livelier than the atmosphere that shaped Stones’ game here but this was a ball-player curtailing his instincts to suit the challenge.

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“He was decisive, dominant in the air, and unusually averse to risk-taking.

“But as he orchestrated Southgate’s defence and acted as a conduit between Jordan Pickford and the midfield, Stones looked every inch a captain-in-waiting.

“He looks more assured with every game he starts with England, is a pillar of the team and is becoming as eloquent off the field as he is elegant on it.”

Elsewhere on the international stage on what was a busy night, Vincent Kompany was part of the Belgium side that secured a 2-1 UEFA Nations League win over Switzerland.

Meanwhile, Ederson and Gabriel Jesus both featured for Brazil in a 2-0 friendly victory over Saudi Arabia with the Daily Mail reporting how Jesus opening the scoring for La Selacao.

The Mail scribes: “Brazil began with Philippe Coutinho, Jesus and Neymar in a three-pronged attack but it took them until the half hour mark to really trouble their hosts, with Al-Owais making a fine acrobatic save to palm Jesus' header over the crossbar.

“The Manchester City striker was not to be denied, however, and he opened the scoring after 44 minutes when he raced onto Neymar's through ball and found the back of the net.

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“Jesus was one of six Premier League players to feature for Brazil, with City team-mate Ederson, Liverpool defender Fabinho and Manchester United midfielder Fred also starting, with Fred being replaced by Tottenham's Lucas Moura at half-time.

“Everton's Richarlison made only his third international appearance when he replaced Jesus with 18 minutes remaining.”

Staying on the international scene, there were more warm words for City youngster Phil Foden in the wake of his assured debut for England Under-21s against Andorra on Thursday night in the FootballTransferTavern.

Jack Saville reports: "Manager Aidy Boothroyd purred: “His spacial awareness is as good as anybody I’ve ever seen at this age. Really clever.”

But the esteemed praise didn’t stop there as Owen Hargreaves also weighed in with a huge comparison:

“He’s impossible to mark in those areas. He’s got a spacial awareness that reminds me of Paul Scholes. He just knows exactly when and where.

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“As good as he is, he doesn’t force the issue, he’s really generous in terms of his teammates and there’s no denying he’s a special player.”

Finally, there is a snippet of transfer gossip from goal.com, who claim that City are locked in a battle for Ajax prospect Frenkie De Jong.

Goal claim: "Barcelona and Manchester City have gone head-to-head in the race to sign Ajax prospect Frenkie De Jong.

“The two clubs each believe that the other has an advantage when it comes to landing the 21-year-old, who is being chased by Europe's biggest sides.

“And the situation is further complicated by a mutual interest in Ajax centre-back Matthijs De Ligt.

“De Jong has spoken of his desire to play with Lionel Messi at Camp Nou on several occasions, and sources at Manchester City had been of the belief that the Primera Division champions were in pole position.

But senior Barca sources now believe that it is City who have the upper hand ."


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