Oh What Could Have Been…
An XI that could have all been Stoke players
The transfer window can churn out some extreme candidates for clubs to sign when the media runs out of real news and Stoke is no exception. Being linked with unlikely candidates such as Yaya Toure and Xherdan Shaqiri (hehehe) means fans these days take most transfer rumours with a pinch of salt. However there have been some players that have been as close as hovering a pen over a contract to play for the Potters, only for the move to fade away into distant memory. Today I bring you an XI of names that will recover those memories and make us all wonder what could have been for Stoke City. Who would have signed? Who wouldn’t have been signed if they had been signed? Who have been signed instead of the person who was going to sign but didn’t sign and probably signed for someone else instead?
The positions of some have been slightly exaggerated, but needs must:
Back in the Winter of 2010, Stoke looked to make a move for Portsmouth goalkeeper David James. It was the year where Portsmouth’s financial decline had meant that a nine-point penalty had all but relegated them. Stoke looked to try and help assist Pompey with their expenditure by taking the England goalkeeper on loan, but the move broke down as Stoke refused to pay the entirety of James’ wages. In the end this move never happened but Stoke did instead bring in James’ understudy Asmir Begovic for just over £3m. It looked like it worked out well after all.
Winter 2014 saw Mark Hughes looking for midfield cover in the form of Sunderland hothead Lee Cattermole. A fee of £5m had been agreed by both clubs and Lee was a medical away from making a deadline day switch. However, Sunderland decided at the eleventh hour to perform a dramatic u-turn and cancel the deal, leaving Stoke stranded with no back-up plan so late on. Since then Stoke have failed to bring in an out-and-out defensive midfielder, relying on Glenn Whelan’s fitness and, at times, Geoff Cameron’s versatility. Cattermole is still at Sunderland and continues to fight the drop each season, poor bloke.
In a recent interview, now West Ham centre back James Collins revealed that he almost signed for Tony Pulis and Stoke back in 2009. The Welsh international instead opted for Aston Villa before making his move back to London three seasons later. Collins said about his potential new manager: “He is from Newport and grew up not far from me, so I’ve always had a good bit of banter with him. I know boys that have played for him, but he’s a great manager and a great man.
Following West Ham’s relegation back in 2011, Stoke chased for the signature of Scott Parker to boost their midfield options ahead of the upcoming Europa League campaign. Try as he might, Tony Pulis couldn’t convince Scott to move away from London (where his children were currently being schooled) and instead he signed for Spurs. He then went on to play for England and eventually joined Fulham’s unsuccessful fight against relegation from the Premier League, but Parker has been another defensive midfielder that failed to make way for the Potteries.
In a more recent development, it was less than a year ago that a move for Palace midfielder Mile Jedinak. Although club captain, it appeared at the Australian had falled down in the pecking order since the signing of Yohan Cabaye and Stoke looked to guarantee Mile first team football. It was on deadline day where Stoke’s interest had peaked and a deal worth around £3m had been agreed between the clubs. Despite this, the player’s representatives conjured up fresh demands from Stoke and it was enough for the plug to have been pulled on yet another midfield sweeper. Making just 16 starts in the league this season, it could have been argued that some more serious competition could have been made with Glenn Whelan. But at Palace he stayed.
According to comments from one of Tony Pulis’ former backroom staff, Stoke were offered midfielder Javier Pastore for around £5m. Pulis was believed to have turned down the deal due to Pastore’s lack of physicality and doubted the impact he would have on the Premier League. A transfer story with a little less certainty to it, although Pastore is now one of the most highly rated midfielders at Paris St. Germain and certainly smashes the claimed £5m estimated worth. Let’s face it: who knows if Pastore’s development would have been the same at Stoke than it has been at PSG, but it could have meant that Stoke could have produced a truly world-class player.
For the past two Summer transfer windows, Stoke have been known to have been interested in Dynamo Kiev forward Andriy Yarmolenko. Certainly last Summer discussions between clubs and player agents took place and a deal certainly could have been struck if it wasn’t for Kiev’s club owner. His desire to keep Andriy for one more season saw Stoke miss out on the Ukrainian and looked elsewhere. Eventually Stoke snatched Xherdan Shaqiri from Inter, certainly not a bad alternative! As for Yarmolenko, his name is being whispered throughout the Premier League and a move for him looked likely this upcoming window. But who know’s where?!
Stoke looked to bring in Rennes winger Jonathan Pitroipa in a last ditch attempt on deadline day in the Winter of 2014. The deal looked to have been approved by both clubs and player and a deal looked dead certain, with the Stoke staff ordering pizza to celebrate the business. It’s unclear as to who’s fault it was that the deal was not finalised by the deadline, but it left all parties disgruntled with the failed transfer. Stoke followed up the following window by bringing in Victor Moses, Pitroipa now plays in the Arabian Gulf League. Make of that what you will.
Stoke’s American dream was denied as Juan Agudelo failed to link up with compatriots geoff Cameron and Brek Shea. Agudelo did actually agree to play for Stoke back in Winter 2014 after his contract expired with MLS club New England Revolution, but the English FA denied Stoke a work permit and meant that the empty contract that Agudelo had signed was forced to be ran down and eventually Agudelo left for free back to New England. Stoke’s hierarchy thought that Agudelo could be worth around £10m in the future and missed out on a fantastic deal, but Stoke have materialised other good deals for strikers such as the free signing of Mame Diouf.
One of the most bizarre collapses of a transfer ever, Stoke City turned down the chance to sign Demba Ba from Hoffenheim back in Winter 2011. In a deal worth around £7m, Ba was a successful medical away from joining the Potters, but indeed Ba did not pass due to a knee issue and the deal faded. Whether this was the true reason for the collapse is still unsure due to the fact that Ba has successfully signed for Newcastle, West Ham and Chelsea and must have passed medicals at those clubs. The most frustrated party appeared to be the player who thought that he had lost his big chance to make an impact in England. Luckily for him, he did go onto have many more chances and has called an end to his spell some time ago.
Stoke appeared to have tempted Loic Remy to sign for them, he even got as far as being spotted and pictured in the club’s training ground finalising a move. However the move from Lille in Summer 2010 all of a sudden died and he very quickly ended up at fellow French club Marseille. Remy had been accused at the time for using Stoke as an advertising platform for a ‘bigger club’ to come and snatch him away. This seemed to have worked, after moving to QPR, Newcastle and Chelsea since that decision to turn down the Potters, but who knows what a spell at Stoke would have done for him, although he might like sitting on the bench getting paid by one of the richer clubs in England…
Who do you remember nearly signing for Stoke? And where do you think we would have been with them in? I’ll take what we’ve got now to be honest.
Written by Ben Rowely
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