Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed that the club will discuss John Stones' future at the club at the end of the season.
Speaking in his press conference ahead of City's upcoming fixture, Guardiola announced that Stones would be making what will be his 13th league appearance of the season - and the Spaniard has hinted that this could be a crucial match for the England international ahead of a potentially busy transfer window.
Stones, who was signed by Guardiola from Everton in 2016 for £50m, has not made an appearance in all competitions since City's 1-0 FA Cup victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
Many believe that he could be on his way out of the Etihad Stadium, with Newcastle, Arsenal, and former club Everton all linked. And recent comments by former Barcelona boss Guardiola have added fuel to these rumours.
"On the transfer market we speak at the end of the season," said Guardiola, as reported by the Telegraph.
“I’ve said many times I’m more than delighted with John as a person, as a pro, everything. We’ll speak at the end of the season about what is going to happen.
“Sometimes my wish is not the wish of the players, or the wish of the situation for the club. If we have to change, we’ll talk to them."
The 26 year-old has fallen down the pecking order at Manchester City, with fellow centre-backs Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, and Eric Garcia all making appearances in the last three games while Stones remained an unused substitute.
Nonetheless, Guardiola was quick to praise Stones, while bemoaning his injury troubles: “The quality of John [Stones] is there, I never doubted it for one second, it’s just when you don’t play, you are rotated and injured again. And injured again. He must play for himself and focus.”
Meanwhile, Guardiola has warned his squad that if they repeat their performance against Southampton on Sunday, then they can say goodbye to any hopes of more silverware this season.
“If we can play like we play and we are consistent in both boxes, we will have a big chance to go through to the final of the FA Cup and the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
“But if it happens like it did against Southampton, Tottenham at home and away and Norwich away, we will be out [of the FA Cup] and Arsenal will be in the final and Madrid will go through [to the Champions League quarter-final]. This is the reality we have to accept.”