Manchester City are set to hand John Stones a new contract in a bid to show the England defender that he is still part of their future under Pep Guardiola.
Though the 24-year-old played the full 90 minutes in Saturday’s win over Tottenham as champions City returned to the top of the Premier League table with four games to go, he had begun five of their previous six matches on the bench after returning to fitness in a season that has been hit by injuries.
Stones has struggled to nail down a regular place in the team as boss Guardiola has gone for Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany instead of him.
Captain Kompany and Otamendi are now both well into their 30s though and Guardiola believes Stones will eventually forge a first-choice partnership with Laporte, also 24. And City are ready to secure the centre-back’s future by handing him an improved £180,000-a-week deal.
Stones still has three seasons left on the £120,000-a-week, six-year contract he signed after his 2016 move from Everton.
He has been frustrated by his lack of action after an outstanding World Cup last summer, where he started all seven games as England got within 23 minutes of their first final since winning the competition in 1966, but City want him to commit himself to them for a further four years.
Referring to his lack of playing time last week, the former Barnsley youngster insisted the team has to come first. He said: “If it is five minutes, 20 minutes, full game, whatever, you have to be ready to fight for the team, to be unselfish. Everyone is together here.”
Though their bid for a unique Quadruple ended with Wednesday’s dramatic Champions League quarter-final exit to Spurs, the Blues remain on for a Treble of title and both domestic cups that has never been achieved in English football before.
They retained the League Cup by beating Chelsea on penalties in February’s final, and return to Wembley next month to face Watford in the FA Cup version.