Pep Guardiola has shot down claims John Stones could be set for a Manchester City exit, dismissing them as “fake news”.
The 23-year-old started the season as one of City’s two first-choice centre-halves along with Nicolas Otamendi.
However, a combination of injury, the arrival of Aymeric Laporte and the return to fitness of Vincent Kompany has reduced Stones to just one City appearance since February.
However, when asked about a potential Etihad exit for Stones, Guardiola replied: “I’m sorry for the guys who announce we’re going to want to sell him. I’m sorry – they lie. I’m not going to comment on the transfers when it’s fake news.
“I don’t know how people believe we’re going to sell John Stones. He is a young player, an international English player. He’s a huge part of the reason why we won the title.
“I don’t know how long I will be here in Manchester, but as long as I’m here, John Stones will be with us.
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“When he is injured and comes back, injured and comes back, injured and comes back, sometimes it’s not easy.
“He is a joy to train, I want to help him, and we cannot forget the first six months with Nicolas Otamendi was excellent, was top.
“Vinnie (Kompany) came back at a good level, Nico has been at an amazing level all the season, and Aymeric Laporte – his impact from the beginning was so good.
“All four know they have to compete between them.”
Stones has recently been struggling with an adductor injury that could see him miss City’s trip to West Ham on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
He has four years left to run on the six-year deal he signed at the Etihad when joining from Everton for £47.5m in August 2016.