Stoke City Transfer News

  To compliment my weekly round-ups of Stoke City transfer rumours this summer, which really just give an overview, I’ll take a deeper look at all the areas we need to strengthen, the players we have been linked with, and what they would mean to the club.

  I believe that within our present squad, we have the makings of a very presentable Premier League side, as was shown by our twelfth place finish last season. With Thomas Sørensen having excelled in goal, Abdoulaye Faye and Ryan Shawcross having dominated from the centre-back position, Ricardo Fuller and James Beattie having scored thirty goals between them, and Matthew Etherington and Liam Lawrence well established out wide, it seems likely that these players will form the core of our side to start the 2009/10 season in August, and that any signings in their positions will be made mainly with strength in depth and healthy competition in mind.

Faye and Beattie, two players sure to remain as first choice next term

  One area of the side manager Tony Pulis should definitely look to strengthen is the centre of midfield. Towards the end of the season, Rory Delap and Glenn Whelan provided the core of the side. Delap’s long throw obviously provides an important part of the way we approach the game, but by no means all of it as the more bitter and cynical members of the media would have you believe (if all the points gained from goals which resulted from his throws were removed, we’d still have stayed up), but he’ll be 33 next month, and his significance and level of contribution to the team will naturally wane as he ages. Whelan’s play, meanwhile, is dangerously polarised, with classy cross-field passes frequently going hand in hand with misplaced short balls and potentially costly mistakes. Therefore, there is room for at least one, and possibly two new centre-midfielders to be signed.

  We are already rumoured to be targeting a number of talented players in the position, with Cardiff’s Joe Ledley, Mallorca’s Juan Arango, Hadjuk Split’s Senijad Ibričić and Pascal Feindouno, who currently plays for Al-Sadd in Qatar, looking the most likely targets. Though some rather less appealing names, such as Alan Smith and the little known Swede Andrés Vasquez, have also been thrown into the hat, I am happy for us to be chasing these four players. Arango has shown his class in Spanish football and internationally for Venezuela, Feindouno has long been his country, Guinea’s best player, while Ibričić is a very exciting prospect; aged 23 he has more than 50 career goals already from his favoured attacking midfield role. None of these three should cost more than around £4 million, which is very encouraging, as we could add a quality midfielder to our squad without making too much of a hole in our summer transfer budget.

Despite his menacing looks, Arango could fit well into our convivial dressing room

  The midfielder that we have been most strongly linked with, Ledley, is the one that I would be least happy for us to sign. I’ve watched him on a number of occasions for Cardiff and Wales, and from what I’ve seen I’m not sure he could make the step up to impress at Premier League level. He seems a rather insubstantial player, with a lot of good touches, but a lack of genuine contribution to the sides he plays for. He’s also the most expensive midfield target on our radar, with Cardiff setting an asking price of £6 million, which would make him our club record signing. I’m not convinced that he would be worth anything like that much to us, and I have no desire for us to fill Cardiff’s pockets, so perhaps he would be a player best left where he is.

  Our full-backs are also a concern. With club captain Andy Griffin set to leave the Britannia Stadium after falling out with Pulis, Andy Wilkinson is the only out and out right back in the squad. He held the position for the second half of last season, and for the most part gave a very good account of himself from it, his strong showings belying his youth and inexperience, and I, and most Stoke fans, would be happy to see him retain it. There is little doubt that we need to add depth in the position though, with the most likely target being Birmingham’s Stephen Kelly. He recently spent four months on loan at Stoke, from February till the end of the season, and despite doing little to win the hearts of the supporters, he seems to have impressed Pulis, as we are widely tipped to be set to sign him for around £1 million. He’s very highly rated at Birmingham, and though some of his games for us, particularly his debut at Sunderland, were poor, I believe that fully sharp he could be a reasonable asset to the club. I wouldn’t like to see Wilkinson displaced, but if Kelly was content to be a second choice right-back, he would be a solid signing.

Kelly is yet to prove his worth

  The left-back position is an equally great concern. It has been occupied by Danny Higginbotham recently, but it generally agreed that he plays best more centrally, and lacks the composure and the attacking edge to his game necessary to truly shine in the role. Worryingly, with the only options to Higginbotham being another square peg in a round hole, Danny Pugh, and the very raw Carl Dickinson, we have not been linked with a single left-back yet this summer. Hopefully as the transfer window hots up, this will change, as Pulis must recognise that this is a problem that he must endeavour to rectify.

  As we look to consolidate as a Premier League club, it is important for the fans to be able to see that the chairman and manager have ambition to move forward. One way they’ll achieve this is through showing their willingness to target big name, expensive players, and happily, this has already been evident this summer. Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes was heavily linked with a move to Stoke as a player coach, and while this transfer now seems unlikely to happen, he would represent a major coup for the club, and it is very pleasing to see that we are targeting such high calibre players. The situation is similar regarding Valencia forward Nikola Žigić, of whom Pulis is a long time admirer (well he is 6′8”). He is a very good striker with an excellent goalscoring record and would most likely fit very well into our style of play. Rated at upwards of £10 million, signing him would positively smash our record expenditure, not to mention our wage budget, and I would be delighted if it happened. The signing of one well renowned player would also raise the estimation of Stoke City in the eyes of many other potential targets, making it even more vital for us to be prepared to target the best.

The thought of Delap throws aimed at Žigić is enough to set the pulse racing

  We have also been linked with a number of “wildcards“, relatively unknown foreign based players, who wouldn’t cost the earth, among them Sampdoria’s veteran midfielder Gennaro Delvecchio and Rosenborg defender Vadim Demidov. I won’t pretend to know a great deal about either of these players, and we know Pulis has always been wary of players untried in the English game, but he has said he is keen to tap into the European market this year, so we could quite possibly see a player like one of these two in the red and white of Stoke come September. While there are obvious dangers of bringing untried players to the club, we have to faith in the scouting system and our ability to recognise real quality, and believe that any unknown players who come into the club can have as positive effect on our fortunes as those big name signings could. After all, some of our best players in recent years, the likes of Sergei Shtaniuk and Mikael Hansson, have been plucked from relative obscurity.

  As we bring in new players, members of the current squad will inevitably have to make way. Four members of our first team squad, Vincent Péricard, Tom Thorley, Jimmy Phillips and Marc Grocott have already been released, while we have decided against pursuing Henri Camara after his loan spell at the club ended. None of these five players ever really made the grade, and while it’s sad to see Stoke players fail, there is no place for sentimentality in the world of Premier League football, and their release was without doubt in the club’s best interests.

  Other, more established players will also be shown the Britannia Stadium door. As well as Griffin, who may well rejoin Newcastle, fringe players Michael Tonge and Seyi Olofinjana have been strongly linked with exits, while Senegalese midfielder Salif Diao is currently deliberating over whether to accept a new contract from Stoke or to look elsewhere when his current deal expires at the end of this month. It makes perfect sense that as exciting, new players are brought in, others will have to leave, and if we really can bring in better people, I would advocate Pulis seeking to sell many of our second string players to the highest reasonable bidder.

Occasional Nigeria captain Olofinjana could move on

  There are also some worrying reports circulating unwelcomely, like vultures to a stranded nomad, suggesting that some of our current best players will be subject to serious transfer bids from higher profile clubs. Arsenal are apparently after Abdoulaye Faye, while Bayern Munich are keen on Sørensen, and though both players maintain they are fully committed to Stoke, it would be understandable, once the initial disappointment has worn off for them to want the chance to play for one of Europe’s biggest clubs. I sincerely hope that nothing more concrete than these initial rumours emerges, but if it is the case that we are given an offer too good to refuse, then it will be vitally important that Pulis is able to put the money gained from the sale of our best players to making further equally shrewd signings.

  Last year, there were just four major transfer deals involving Premier League clubs completed in the month of June, so as yet it is far too early to become overly concerned by transfer activity or lack of it. I have faith in Pulis to make additions to the squad that will help us consolidate and ultimately better our excellent finish for 2008/09, and as we have proved we are worthy of being considered to be amongst English football’s elite, Stoke should prove to be a more attractive destination for players this summer. It is with hope, faith and expectation that I await further news and look forward to the rest of this summer and the season beyond.


22 Responses to “Stoke City Transfer News”

  1. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    Another very interesting article VJ. Plenty of your highly valued opinions are enjoyable, whilst for an article of this length, it is impressive to only have, in my humble estimation, two grammatical mistakes, neither of which hinder my enjoyment of this article.

    This made me chuckle a bit: “We are already rumoured to be targeting a number of talented players in the position, with Cardiff’s Joe Ledley, Mallorca’s Juan Arango, Hadjuk Split’s Senijad Ibričić and Pascal Feindouno, who currently plays for Al-Sadd in Qatar, looking the most likely targets. Though some rather less appealing names, such as Alan Smith and the little known Swede Andrés Vasquez,”

    I enjoy the way in which you describe Vasquez, although I feel that you should have mentioned his Peruvian heritage as well, as little known, whilst previously we are meant to infer that Senijad Ibričić is a household, world famous player!

    Just out of interest, Wikipedia says that you have signed Vasquez!!!

  2. I*T*P*L Says:

    Thank you Steven. I feel that this article is among my least necessary, but I had to write it for the football journalism challenge and enjoyed doing so, hopefully it offers something to the reader. If you would point out the mistakes I’d be grateful, as I’d like to correct them.

    You know what wikipedia is like.

  3. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    Haha - no comment about the necessity of this article!

    There is one mistake in the paragraph after the Zigic picture, where you say something about having faith. I can’t be bothered/have the time to find the other mistake. I can hear discrete random variables calling me!!

  4. Why Why Why Delilah Says:

    This is a very good article I*T*P*L. You write in a lot more detail than I did for my first blog, but I like both articles. This is got lots of detail and interesting stuff in it and it is really nice to read. I think we need more strikers like I said in my article but I also think we need another winger on the left because Etherington is not good enough for Stoke. We should maybe go for Robben from Real Madrid because they want to sell him because they just bought Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. Do you think Robben would be good for us?

  5. Gary Hill Says:

    S.G.Eriksson you are a prick!What on earth has grammar got to do with football and the love of it?Chill out and get something to do with your time.

  6. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    G.Hill you are a prick!What on earth have you got to do with me and my love of football?Chill out and get something to do with your time.

    You made me chuckle Gary. Countless times, basically on every blog that VJ has written, I have commented on his grammar and vice-versa when I have written anything. As good friends, it’s not exactly being harsh is it to help VJ out. It’s called constructive criticism and it’s something you could learn. As he says near the end of comment 2, he’d like to correct his mistakes. Thus, you are supposed to infer that he is pleased with me for spotting his errors and would like to correct them. Obviously, a more intelligent person than yourself would have realised this and not made on the cuff assumptions, but never mind.

    VJ - love the comment from Why x3 Delilah about you signing Robben! No chance! More likely, he’ll come to us

  7. I*T*P*L Says:

    Calm down guys. Gary, as Steven says the grammar is something of a running joke between me and him, and in no way suggests he is a prick, more shows his sense of humour.

    Steven, I’ve now come to the conclusion that why why why delilah is either the mother of all wind-up merchants or you.

  8. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    I know I’m sad by commenting on your grammar (but at least you think it’s funny) but I’m not sad enough to create an identity and start writing about Stoke!! I’ve still got exams to do so, as shown by about 2 articles in 4 weeks by me, I’m not going to waste time and write an extra, totally un-needed article!! I want an apology.

  9. LeeWilson Says:

    Rather than join in the handbags above, I want to congratulate you again on another good article I*T*P*L.

    You’re going to be very hard to beat:-)

  10. I*T*P*L Says:

    Ok, I’m sorry Steven, if it’s not you who is it? I very much doubt it’s a serious contributor now.

    Thanks a lot Lee, it’s very good to hear compliments about my writing. I thought the same of you after the England task. I’m looking forward to reading your Barca article.

  11. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    Don’t know?

    Is this competition for the football journalism challenge or have I missed something? And who’s winning?

  12. I*T*P*L Says:

    Task six of the FJC for June was to write an article about summer transfers for your club, which is why I wrote this. You’ll probably see a lot appearing under the title “Teamname Transfer News” over the next few days.

    The current top few of the leaderboard looks like this.

    32. I*T*P*L

    30. Leewilson

    27. footyjourno93
    27. mightyhammer

    26. swji

    23. Juandeful
    23. Danny Hall

    I’m away from the 20th to the 26th though and may not be able to do task seven though. It’s going to be a photo finish.

  13. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    Oooohhh - I’m rooting for you VJ Definitely not swji.

  14. Why Why Why Delilah Says:

    How do I enter this challenge? I think that I would really enjoy it. I might even win. What is the prize?

  15. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    Why Why Why Delilah - if I’m not mistaken, and I’m hoping that VJ will pick me up on this if I’m wrong, the challenge has already started and no new people can enter.

    Somehow though, even if you were allowed to enter, I don’t think you would win.

  16. Lakeland Potter Says:

    One typo from me - talking about Scholes you said “while this transfer now seems unlikely to happy”…………. I know what you mean but I don’t think you mean to write that!

  17. Why Why Why Delilah Says:

    Do any other Stoke fans that we should try and sign Salomon Kalou from Chelsea because he is not good enough for them, but he would be awesome for us!

  18. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    VJ - what time you getting in tomorrow???

  19. I*T*P*L Says:

    About quarter past one. you?

  20. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    Ok, never mind, I have to go in in the morning.

  21. I*T*P*L Says:

    Poor you. At least you get time to practice. There’ll probably be loads of people in all day though.

  22. David Says:

    Why Why Why Delilah - Kalou would not sign for Stoke! Are you mad or just confused? Please leave the articles to I*T*P*L for now, he actually knows what he’s talking about. Please don’t ruin this blog with more posts.

    Thanks for your efforts, I guess.

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