Why a Languishing Start To The Transfer Window Could Still Be a Success For Stoke City
Posted by Eddie Bradbury | Published on July 21, 2016
It hasn’t been the best of summers so far for Stoke City by any stretch of the imagination. The possibility of a poor transfer window started towards the back-end of last season, when Marko Arnautovic was reportedly reluctant to sign a new contract, his contract situation has been in jeopardy ever since. June saw the record broadcasting TV deal of £5.1 billion for the premier league flourish immediately, with transfers happening left, right and centre. However, the transfer activity in Stoke-on-Trent has been very lacklustre so far, with many fans becoming seemingly exasperated with the inability to sign a player 6 weeks into the transfer window. Stoke are one of two clubs, along with Sunderland, yet to announce any new signings. Strong interest in both Andros Townsend and Nathan Redmond culminated in disappointment, as they joined Crystal Palace and Southampton respectively. Regardless of how frustrating this may be, it is important that the fans remain patient and have a rational perspective of what is happening behind the scenes. Players’ agent fee’s, work permits and an agreement on the valuation of a player with the other club are just some of the implications that are included in the negotiation of a transfer between two clubs and any other relevant parties. Over the last week or so, there has been speculation of Stoke having an interest in numerous players, and a swift turn around in the transfer window looks imminent.
Widespread speculation of Stoke’s interest in Saido Berahino became apparent a few days ago, as a bid totalling to £20 million was made for the WBA striker. The news was music to my ears, regardless of the valuation of the player, this would be another great transfer coup by Mark Hughes. Berahino has all the tools to be a top striker, with pace, natural ability and age on his side to make it as a future England international. Many seem unconvinced to what the striker has to offer, and have also questioned his attitude, what better manager than Mark Hughes to allow Berahino to blossom. Hughes has already proven his ‘spark’, being a pivotal factor in getting the best out of Arnautovic, Bojan and Shaqiri. Hughes has stated that he remains hopeful of securing Berahino’s signature. It is paramount that Stoke sign a striker for the new season, as Mark Hughes tinkled with the side and even reverted to playing Bojan in the false nine role due to inconsistent performances from the strikers last season.
Another player that is close to joining Stoke City is young Egyptian ace Ramadan Sobhi, who’s arrival is being delayed on securing a work permit. It is fair to say that twitter and Facebook went into a frenzy following the news that Stoke had agreed a fee of around £5 million for the 19 year old winger. Egyptian fans absolutely adore him, and within a week Stoke’s official facebook page gained 24,000 likes, which is enough to fill the home section of the bet365 arena. The Ramadan Sobhi effect. Sobhi will add competition and well needed depth on the wing, with Arnautovic and Shaqiri being the only two out and out recognisable wingers in the side. Mark Hughes is relishing the chance of working with Sobhi and has labelled the youngster with having game changing abilities.
Another position that Stoke are rather fragile in is defensive midfield, Glen Whelan is arguably the only natural defensive midfielder at the club, even though Geoff Cameron has been able to operate in the role if needs be, due to his versatility. Although Glen Whelan is rather under appreciated amongst Stoke fans, me included, I would welcome a more gifted midfielder. It is an area I think we could and need to improve on if we want to be qualifying for European football. We have been heavily linked with 22 year old Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina in the past week, reportedly making a £12 million bid for the Gabon international. Watford, West Brom and Leicester have also been linked with Lemina. A surprising bid for Joe Allen also came to fruition last night, as Stoke step up their pursuit for a defensive midfielder ahead of the new season. Liverpool have accepted an offer of £13 million for the Welsh international. Stoke seem to be gathering momentum with recruiting new players. If we can sign Berahino, Sobhi and a defensive midfielder and tie Arnautovic down to a new contract, then waiting 6 weeks would have been undoubtedly worth it.