Barnsley boss David Flitcroft admits to being left ‘numb’ by John Stones’ deadline day departure to Everton.
The Tykes thought they had done enough to retain the services of the promising full-back as the January transfer window edged towards a close.
Their hand was forced late on, though, with Everton and Wigan battling it out for the 18-year-old’s services.
Flitcroft feels the Toffees have landed the most promising defender in the country and concedes there is no chance of him finding a replacement of similar quality.
He said to the Barnsley Chronicle: “On Wednesday, I was pretty confident we would keep John.
“But then I got a call on Thursday morning to say he would probably be leaving.
“To be honest, I am numb. It is like losing a member of your own family.
“I was asked if I could replace him, and the answer was, ‘no’. How do you replace the best young defender in England?
“There is nobody out there as good as John, and that is why clubs were prepared to pay £3million for him.”
Barnsley FC Blogger, OnThePontyEnd.com had this to say:
“Whilst I wouldn’t agree with the statements that Stones leaving the club has left us [Barnsley Fans] distraught, I would say that he is a special talent that will be missed at Oakwell and in the Championship.
If there could be a comparison at this very early stage, it could be with a Gareth Bale. Perhaps the problem with making that kind of comparison is that Stonesy is right sided and is not a free kick specialist. But everybody expects him to continue developing quickly in to an influential and dominant player in the future. The lad is still growing and will get stronger, but physique aside, it’s his calmness and technique that is far more evident and probably draws greater comparisons with a player like Rio Ferdinand.
Converted to a right wing back for the Reds in the last half a dozen games or so under Flitcroft, this player is intelligent and hard working. From a Barnsley perspective, apart from being one of our own – which easily leads to bias, he has all the attributes to have a career as big as another favourite son, Mick McCarthy. Personally though, I think Stonesy is better.
You really don’t know how lucky you are. Yet!