The Bargain Bin
Well the season is well and truly over, and if I start talking about the Palace match I might cry again. So much earlier than normal the debate on who Stoke should target next season has begun with many big names being circled around the club. But an unusual aspect to the coming transfer window will be our need to replace aging/poor squad players with refreshing and exciting ones eager to impress whenever they get a chance. Obviously spending is again expected to be high, especially when targeting a 20 goal a season striker who will most likely blow the transfer record out of the water. Therefore a responsible spending policy must be taken to improving the squad depth, along with employing some of the more experienced youth players, to ensure the transfer spending is stable. So it may be useful for us to look to the teams leaving the Premier League seeking to move on players who will not be suited to life in the Championship.
Starting with the team who are mathematically relegated Aston Villa. Now many would suggest that this is the worst team ever seen since the leagues creation in 1992, and I would agree but this does not rule out taking some of the better players in their team to boost our squad. The first I would look at is Jack Grealish. Equally adept at playing on both wings, Grealish would be the perfect supplement to both Arnie and Shaqiri. If Hughes can manage him as well as he has managed Marko, Grealish could become a true asset for the club. Obviously behind our two current wide men game time would be limited, but at a young age Grealish could seek to impress with every performance he makes with the aim of giving Sparky a true selection dilemma. Further to this Grealish has something the club looks for in all new signings, re-sale value, making him an even more attractive prospect. That would be it for players from Villa as most are truly terrible and would be considered very high risk signings. A quick shout out to Adama Traore who must be feeling like he made a very bad choice in August, enjoy the trip to Rotherham away.
Next is the odd case of Newcastle who appear to have too much quality in the club to go down, but ultimately that appears to be their fate. And with this high quality there are many potential targets within the Geordie’s squad. Shelvey and Townsend have both been linked with moves to the Potteries in the past, but there is some doubt over transfer fee, wages and whether or not both would be content being squad players. But one player who I see as a perfect addition to the squad is Erik Pieters’ compatriot, right back, Daryl Janmaat. Janmaat has been a shining beacon in one of the worst defences in the league this season, and is certainly of too high a quality to be left floundering in the Championship. With our two current right backs on the wrong side of 30, Janmaat (only 26) could provide a long term solution in this position. Other notable players from the Magpies include Wijnaldum and Ayoze Perez, both of whom are good players, but are both similar to current first team players and would bring in relatively little change.
Newcastle’s north-east neighbours Sunderland seem to be filled with the players I would align with Tony Pulis signings, lacking in technical ability and making up for this in work-rate. Now I am firmly against players who only bring hard work to the table being in our squad as I believe we have moved past this requirement as a club. This is not too say that I do not appreciate hard work from the players, but using the line ‘He will run for the entire 90 minutes’ is one that should not be viewed as a criteria for selection. However there is a suggestion that our squad lacks hard working players, proven by the fact that only Aston Villa have covered less ground as a team than us. Therefore we could look at Sunderland-esc players to add to the team. Unfortunately I do not see any who would truly be good additions to the team, and for that reason I’m quite glad they can secure safety with a win against Everton on Wednesday or one over Watford on Sunday. If forced into selecting some players to take I would look at their marauding left-back Patrick Van Aanholt or Fabio Borini, but these players would not be my first choices.
Norwich are a team who I want to go down out of the purely selfish reason of they hold the true diamond in the rough of all the relegation threatened teams, Nathan Redmond. Redmond has an excellent pedigree with a 25 under 21 caps in which he has scored 7 goals, and has 5 goals in 23 starts this season. Redmond appears to be the kind of player who needs quality around him and this is exactly what we can provide (as long as we get that 20 goal a season striker). Redmond’s pace and desire to take on opposing full backs directly is something that we do not have in the squad. He would also give Sparky a different option of the bench, which is something we lack as we have only had 4 substitutes score this season, showing our lack of quality in depth. Redmond would be relatively affordable at 5-7 million, and at only 22, a player with a great future lying ahead of him. Similar to Grealish he has good re-sale value due to him being home grown, but Redmond clearly does not have the personality problems of the Villa winger, and is the better choice.
From the Championship itself players such as Michael Keane and Lewis Cook have been linked with the Potters. Both are quality players within their own right and clearly have something to add to the squad, and both are in the mould of the current club captains. Okay I’ll accept that Keane isn’t technically from the Championship anymore after Burnley’s promotion, but we should still have considerable pull over a yo-yo club. Keane is a product of the United youth system and has only one first team appearance, coming in a league cup match (remind you of anyone?). Keane has had an excellent season and has managed to get 5 goals from centre back, and could be the future partner of Ryan Shawcross. Cook on the other hand is one of the hottest talents in the country and won the Football League youth player of the season award in April. Cook is a player who reminds me of Whelan, he is touted as having some strong attacking abilities but his style of play suggests that he is more the holding type. Clearly it is not just the big name signing that the Potters need to make to progress to the next stage. We must improve the squad and the cheaper this can be done the better, to allow the club to get some truly spectacular names.
Written by Tom Thrower
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