One For The Money: Part 1 – Defenders
So the season is coming to a close and it’s that time of year (perhaps too readily) begin to think about that changes in playing staff that might be made over the Summer and what they might have to look forward to next season. At the moment, the size of the squad is considerably bigger than the amount of players that Hughes uses on a regular basis. Not that that is a bad thing (mainly for the sake of injuries) or something that isn’t a regular occurrence in other Premier League clubs, but it does give reason for some of the fringe players to consider their futures at their club and Stoke is no exception. There have been a few players in the Potteries who either haven’t signed new deals, will be injured looking into the next season, are looking to get more game time or are looking to move towards ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ things. It’s almost inevitable that some players will leave and therefore Hughes will want to make some more signings to replenish his squad; whether they be hurled straight into the first team or are assigned a more ‘squad player’ type of role. There have been faint whispers of transfer rumours running for the last few weeks and months, some of them are included in the review below, along with some other intriguing alternatives that the Potters could realistically look into.
Mark Hughes could look to bolster his defence this Summer, after seeing many of his current squad sidelined for significant periods of time this season and, therefore, relying on an inconsistent back-line. Along with that, the fact that other clubs may be mooting around for our players and that some of our defenders are ageing, here are some targets that hughes could well be bringing in.
One (For the Money): Marc Bartra
We begin our review with, you guessed it, another Barcelona fringe player. Bartra is a 25 year-old Spanish centre-back who has been in Catalonia for almost nine years. Being a Barca boy, his his reputation of passing up from the back is inevitably exemplary, but he is also known for his good defending abilities and, standing at just over 6ft tall, wouldn’t feel too intimidated standing next to Ryan Shawcross or Philipp Wollscheid. He only has 17 appearances for Barcelona in La Liga and the Champions League combined this season and some would argue that he is reaching an age that most players would like to be playing consistently. Hughes has a soft spot for ball-playing defenders and, given his and our club’s’ history with his former team’s transfer dealings, this deal could well suit both clubs and player; providing that the required amount of cash is stumped up for his services.
Contract Expiry: Jul 2017. Market Value: £9m. Possible Fee: £8-12m
Two (For the Show): Jetro Willems
Willems is a 22 year old PSV Eindhoven left-back from the Netherlands. He has played 17 times this season for his club and has one goal and three assists. He was at PSV when Stoke signed compatriot Erik Pieters from the same team, and Willems has more than filled the gap left by him and become a staple for PSV and has 18 caps for his national side. He is a strong yet mobile defender who is also handy going forward and at taking set-pieces. His discipline has been questioned at times but he’s a young player who will only mature and get better as he gets more experience. Erik Pieters at one point has been one of our best players this season and has recently signed a new long-term deal, but with some below-par performances and some slight injury issues, perhaps Willems is some ideal competition in this position who is seemingly built for English football.
Contract Expiry: Jul 2017. Market Value: £7.5m. Expected fee: £9-11m
Three (To get Ready): Caner Erkin
Erkin is a 27 year old left-back that plays for Fenerbahce in the Turkish Super Lig. Erkin has 29 appearances for the Turkish club this season and is a good defender, however what he is most known for, interestingly, is his set-piece deliveries. Erkin has provided four assists this season but has been known to produce wonderful direct and indirect free kicks as well as his deliveries from the wing on the overlap. It’s an area that Stoke have been struggling with for years now and he might be the player to reignite the Potter’s dominance of the dead ball. Most curiously though, Erkin has not signed a new deal with his current club and would be available for a free transfer this Summer. Similar to Willems, he may provide some useful competition for Pieters and get the best out of both players.
Contract Expiry: Jul 2016. Market Value: £8.25m. Expected Fee: Free
Four (To Go): Dionatan Teixeira
Hughes brought in Dion in the hope that he would gain valuable experience training with Premier League players and would grow into a Premier League quality centre-back, rather than be thrown into the team straight away. However, it’s just not happened for him. With just a couple of appearances for the first team so far and a short loan experience away from the club, Dion may want to look elsewhere for regular football and develop his career. Of course, Hughes may elect to keep him as he’s not quite past the age of promise yet, but after not being even selected for the Premier League squad at one point, it might be the parting of the ways for the Brazilian-Slovak.
Contract Expiry: Jul 2017. Market Value: £375k. Expected Fee: < £1m
For anyone that doesn’t get the song reference: https://open.spotify.com/track/0XRYEbNGUw0ojKQ352wyOY
Written by Ben Rowley
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Great article. I love reading these.
I agree with Bartra. He’s scored exactly the type of goal we need, (breaking with the ball from deep) in the 8-0 win against Deporting. Cracking player. Confident at the back. First team gem.
Thanks Andy! Bartra would be a great signing for us, I just wonder whether there would be other competitors for his signature and whether Barca want to sell. Time will tell…