Man City have changed their contract strategy after John Stones deal – Manchester Evening News

Manchester City fans breathed a heavy sigh of relief this morning, as the news broke that John Stones has signed a new contract with the club worth a reported £250,000 per week.

The new four-year deal caps of a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Stones, who just 12 months ago looked set to leave the Blues.

The central defender’s time at City since a £47.5m move from Everton in 2016 had been a mixed bag until last season. After a tough first campaign, he appeared to find his feet, only for injury and poor form to see him plummet down the pecking order.

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Many saw the signing of Ruben Dias in 2020 as a sign that Stones was on his way out, but the pair ended up forming a brilliant partnership and became Pep Guardiola’s first-choice centre-backs.

His superb performances in 2020/21 saw City concede only 12 goals while he was on the pitch, a renaissance that justified Guardiola’s decision to make him one of his first signings at the club.

After such a brilliant season and with only 12 months left on his previous deal, it was feared that the Barnsley-born defender might have looked to maximise his earnings by negotiating with potential suitors. Those concerns were unfounded though, with Stones only interested in committing his long-term future to the “best place for me to play my football and fulfil my ambitions.”

Stone’s new contract, which will see him earn a reported £250,000 per week before tax (£13m per year), makes him one of the highest-paid defenders in the Premier League, although he will earn far less than incoming Manchester United centre-half Raphael Varane, who signed with City’s rivals as a free agent.

The new deal more than doubles Stones’ previous City wage, but it’s an increase that is more than merited given the invaluable contribution he made to City’s Premier League and Carabao Cup triumphs, as well as their run to a first-ever Champions League final.

What is interesting though is that despite the huge pay rise, Stones will still not be amongst City’s top three earners.

Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne will all pocket north of £300,000 per week this season, with Stones coming in at fourth highest. The fact that fifth place Fernandinho will be earning around £100,000 less than Stones suggests a dramatic shift away from City’s previously conservative wage structure.

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Stones played a crucial role in City’s Premier League title triumph last seaon, his third at the club
(Image: Getty)

The club’s hierarchy has long resisted handing out mega-contracts to individuals, instead deciding to spread costs over a number of players. The idea is to have the majority of the squad earning similar wages, so to avoid a situation where player X demands more money because that’s what player Y gets for doing the same job. For example, if Dias has another great season, he could be forgiven for asking for a similar deal to Stones.

There have always been individuals on much higher salary brackets, but they were reserved for players that had a genuine claim to do so, such as Sergio Aguero and David Silva. Now though, as more players start to earn more than £200,000 per week, there’s the possibility that other squad members could become jealous and demand more. This would be detrimental to both squad harmony and the balance sheet.

As City know, outliers in the wage bill aren’t a requirement for success; Chelsea pipped City to Champions League triumph last season without a single player earning more than a reported £200,000 per week.

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Of course, it’s easy to criticise this change in policy, but it’s the reality of elite-level football. As City take steps to cement themselves as a ‘super club’, they will find that they have to make numerous exceptions to their wage structure rules in order to retain their most prized assets.

What City will want to avoid is the wage bill spiralling out of control. United’s salary outlay tops City’s thanks to the huge wages of David de Gea, Jadon Sancho and Paul Pogba, yet most would agree that City have a better overall squad.

Tying down Stones is a great thing for City, but it’s also a warning that difficult decisions may have to be made further down the line.

What do you think about Stones’ new deal and City’s wage structure? Follow our new City Fan Brands Writer Alex Brotherton on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.