Have you ever heard of the concept of a Post Turtle?
The quote, and it's been attributed to a whole heap of people throughout history, runs something like this.
"When you're driving down a country road and you see a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle. You know he didn't get up there by himself. He doesn't belong there; you wonder who put him there; he can't get anything done while he's up there; and you just want to help the poor, dumb thing down."
John Stones is the Premier League's Post Turtle. Except we know the name of the cruel bastard who put him up there, and it was the villainous Pep Guardiola.
The bald-bonced baddy made Stones, the doe-eyed lynchpin of an Everton defence who had conceded more goals than any other team outside the bottom five the previous season, the second most expensive defender of all time, shortly after his 22nd birthday. That was Guardiola picking the Stones-Turtle up, glancing around and seeing a hunk of wood in the distance.
Stones started 27 games that season before 21st February. He started his 28th on 21st February, against Monaco in the Champions League at the Etihad. After an hour and two seconds of that match, Thomas Lemar pinged a long ball forward to Radamel Falcao to break open a counter-attack. Ten seconds later, Stones was watching while sat on his skinny arse on the edge of the box as Falcao chipped Willy Caballero.
The Colombian, one of the game's less mobile strikers at this point in his career, had isolated the boy wonder, turned him inside out and sat him down. And scored. In the Champions League. In front of everyone. That was the poor, helpless turtle sat atop his elevated perch, waggling his flippers about in what reptile specialists later speculated 'might have been turtle sign language for "what the bollocks is going on here, and why is the ground the wrong height?"'
The blame isn't on the turtle. The blame has to fall to the man who has a tracked, recorded history of picking up shelled animals and trapping them at heights they should never naturally reach. Or in English – Pep Guardiola is absolutely awful at buying centre-backs, and it's one of maybe three flaws that he has (the other two are his teams' habits of falling away after 2-3 seasons and baldness).
Mehdi Benatia on a five-year deal for €26m at Bayern.