There have been an awful lot of revisionist opinions voiced on David Moyes' time at Everton over the course of the last season, but the Scot deserves a significant amount of credit for his final transfer as Blues manager. The £3 million arrival of John Stones from Barnsley in January 2013 barely registered at the midpoint of the last campaign, but 18 months later the young defender has established himself as one of the most talented members of Roberto Martinez's squad, and finished the season with his first full England cap in a friendly against Peru.
This rapid rise to prominence might seem a little surprising, but indicators of Stones' superlative confidence and ability have been present since pre-season, when the then-19-year-old chipped the winning penalty in a friendly against Juventus. Such moments of nonchalant quality would become commonplace during the second half of the season, when defensive injuries allowed Stones the opportunity to play regular Premier League football. He did not disappoint.
An elegant, ball-playing defender, the Englishman was originally billed as a right back but has flourished at the heart of Everton's defence alongside the assured presence of Sylvain Distin. Though occasionally complacent in possession - there is a naiveté to his game that will surely diminish with time - his pace and superb tackling are almost always enough to mount an effective recovery.
There's little doubt too, that the faith that Martinez has shown in Stones this season has had a huge impact on the defender's confidence. Previously at Everton, young players have had to wait years for their chance to impress in the first team, regardless of their apparent talent. With Stones however, Martinez has adhered to the old adage, ‘If you're good enough, you're old enough'. He is certainly good enough.
Though unlikely to displace Jagielka and Distin as first choice come September, Everton's Europa League involvement means that Stones will still see plenty of first team in action. And if his first full season in royal blue is anything to go by, and the Toffees manage to fend off any potential bids, the defender will be a fixture on Merseyside for many years to come.