The centre-back has enjoyed a resurgence at City this season.
Louis van Gaal has revealed Manchester United failed with a bid to sign John Stones during his time in charge at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal was appointed United boss in 2014 as David Moyes’ replacement and led the Red Devils to the FA Cup in 2016, only to be sacked days later.
United spent heavily in an attempt to reshape the squad in Van Gaal’s image, bringing in the likes of Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Luke Shaw in 2014, and Anthony Martial, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger a year later.
Van Gaal on Stones.
One of Van Gaal’s most controversial decisions was to allow Jonny Evans to leave the club for just £6m in 2015 with the Northern Irishman going on to impress at West Brom and Leicester City.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss targeted Stones as a possible replacement for Evans. The youngster stayed at Everton, however, until moving to Manchester City in 2016 to link up with Pep Guardiola.
“John Stones is back to his very best,” Van Gaal said via Metro.
“I remember seeing him as a young defender – I thought he was fantastic and blessed with a great personality.
“This was the reason I wanted to sign him when at Manchester United. I would’ve loved it if he came, but he chose Manchester 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 has enjoyed a resurgence at City this season and has helped Guardiola’s side establish a commanding 10-point lead over United at the Premier League’s summit.
United, meanwhile, are struggling to keep clean sheets on a consistent basis with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side having conceded 32 goals in their 25 games so far (City have shipped just 15).
Back in January, Stones outlined his ambition to re-establish himself as an England regular ahead of the Euros this summer.
“It’s hard when you’re not playing for your club and especially your country,” he said.
“Watching them on TV is something no player wants to do. All I can do is get a run of games and impress Gareth [Southgate]. If it happens it happens.
“It would mean everything.”