In March 1964, the Beatles released their sixth single ‘Money can’t buy me love’, it was a magnificent success, culminating in the bands fourth UK number one and going on to sell comfortably over a million copies.
Over 51 years later; on August 29, 2015, Everton drew 0-0 against Tottenham at White Hart Lane in an unremarkable game of football. However, the Toffees had finally rebuffed a summer-long pursuit of John Stones, from Premier League champions Chelsea.
The Everton faithful belted out an adaption of the aforementioned Beatles classic ‘Money can’t buy you Stones’. This topical wordsmithing went viral across social media, and well worth a watch.
It was definitely something worth shouting about, the Toffees had stood firm in rejecting multiple offers from Chelsea for the former Barnsley player, the last of which was a reported £37m.
At the time of the bid, Stones was 21 years of age and genuinely thought of as the foundation of Everton and England’s defence for a decade or more. It was one of the increasingly rare instances of a club rejecting short-term financial gain, to keep talented players on their books.
Fans of clubs like Southampton, Leeds United and Charlton Athletic know all too well the feeling of losing the next big thing to a club with a bigger financial clout.
However, there was an air of inevitability when, a year later on, Stones swapped the royal blue of Everton for the sky blue of Manchester City, after City met the £47.5m asking price.
This price tag immediately made him a double silver medallist, being the second most expensive English footballer of all time (after team mate Raheem Sterling) and the second most expensive defender of all-time (after David Luiz).
The really interesting thing with Stones is not the fact he has left Everton to play under Pep Guardiola at Man City, it is the price, is he worth it?
To draw comparisons with the footballing past would suggest the price is not as inflated as it may seem. Rio Ferdinand had a similar playing style to Stones, and is arguably the most gifted central defender that England have produced since Bobby Moore (however let’s leave that debate for another day…).
When he was aged 23 (a year older than Stones), Ferdinand moved from Leeds United to Manchester United for a fee of £29.1 million (making him the most expensive defender in the world at the time). Applying inflation since 2002 adjusts the Ferdinand fee to £43.3 million in 2016 money.
Further to this, Barnsley were owed between 15-20% of the deal (equating to roughly £7m, depending on which newspaper you read). Accordingly, in real terms there is not a significant difference in the fees for both players, at similar points in their careers.
At the time of his move to Manchester United, Ferdinand had 27 England caps, and had played in a Champions League semi-final. Comparatively, Stones has 10 England caps and three games in the Europa League to his name.
Accordingly, the driver to his value is his natural ball playing style and how that will perfectly fit into Guardiola’s vision for City. Stones has the grace of Max Whitlock on the Pommel Horse and the calmness of a heart surgeon performing a triple bypass, Guardiola is planning on using these unique characteristics which Stones possesses to bring the ball out of defence to instigate City’s attacks, similar to what Gerard Pique does at FC Barcelona and Jerome Boateng does at Bayern Munich.
It seems that the Evertonian’s were wrong last season, money can buy you Stones, or indeed Paul Pogba or anyone in world football apart from maybe Lionel Messi. Time will tell if City have made a wise investment in Stones, and if he emulates the success Ferdinand had at arch-rivals Manchester United, I think it’s safe to say they would have done.
On a lighter note, in May the Oppenheimer Blue diamond sold for £40 million, breaking the record for the most expensive gemstone sold at auction.
Making the fee paid for Stones the most expensive Stone(s) ever sold. However in 10 years’ time, I’d bet the resale value of the ‘Oppenheimer Blue’ will be significantly more than the market value of a 32 year old centre-back.