Man Utd lost John Stones transfer battle with Man City, confirms Louis van Gaal

Former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has admitted he wanted to take John Stones to Old Trafford.

As it was, the defender headed to rivals Manchester City in 2016 with the Blues paying close to £50m to Everton.

Stones had been struggling at City but has impressed in recent weeks at the Premier League leaders under Pep Guardiola.

Though it would have been different if Van Gaal got his way, with the Dutchman saying: “What is helping Pep is that John Stones is back to his very best.

“I remember seeing Stones as a young defender and I thought he was fantastic and blessed with a great personality.

“This was the reason I wanted to sign him when I was manager of Man United. I did not succeed.

“I would have loved it if he had come to United, but he chose to go to City.

“It is great that Stones is full of confidence again after losing it for a while.

“Pep has given him confidence again and it is wonderful to see how well Stones is playing again.”

Stones was left on the bench for Manchester City’s Premier League clash with his former club Everton in midweek.

He could return against Arsenal on Sunday, and Gunners icon Lee Dixon believes Stones can still get better.

Dixon said: "I think there's more to come from him. I've really been a big fan of his for a long time.

"He went through that rough spell and he talks about (seeing a) sports psychologist, and why wouldn't you?

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  • "If you're a young player in this game now, at any standard, you train your muscles, you train your physicality. Why not train your brain as well, to think in a different way.

    "I think he's always been positionally very good. He's always read the game really well. He just got caught up in his own talent.

    "Because he was so talented on the ball, he was encouraged to play out a little bit and once he got into mistakes, he didn't know how to get out of those.

    "I think the fact he's worked on his mind and how he thinks about the game has simplified it and we're seeing him now in a great position, intercepting balls and being the player he was before – but he's just matured a little bit.

    "I honestly think he will go on and on and on, and get better and better."

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