Deadline Day – The Completed One
So, another transfer window has come and gone and it’s been a rollercoaster ride for Stoke City fans. Excitement, patience, impatience, anger, joy: just some of the emotions that have been rattling around the fanbase for the last couple of months. Add in the mixed emotions caused by Stoke’s start to the Premier League season and it’s been a window which I’m more than happy to see the back of, even though it’s been one of the more entertaining in recent years. Fans have had their requirements, fans have had their desires but, at the end of the day, it’s down to the club and the manager as to who’s in or out at the club. Looking back at the last two months of madness, it’s been a bit more familiar than you probably think.
Joe Allen – The Big One
Stoke’s big money signing of the window. Following in the footsteps of Summer signings such as Kenwyne Jones, Peter Crouch and Xherdan Shaqiri: Joe Allen joined the Potters for £13m and boasted the biggest fee of any Stoke player this Summer. He adds much needed mobility and versatility in the midfield and will surely be one of the first names on the team sheet. The question is: who does he displace? Is it long standing warrior Glenn Whelan, club-record signing Giannelli Imbula or perhaps Bojan to create a traditional three-man midfield. Time will tell, but Allen has had a terrific start to his Stoke career and long may that continue.
Wilfried Bony – The Chased One
Although Wilfried Bony’s season long loan move wasn’t the most highly anticipated move of the window, a search for a quality striker has dominated the headlines of Stoke’s transfer rumours. Like Shaqiri became that important right winger, like Robert Huth became that crucial partner to Ryan Shawcross, Bony will become the main man in Stoke’s attack this season and the fans, players and staff will turn to him for assistance in remedying Stoke’s long dry spell in front of goal. He’s got the pedigree and Premier League experience to prove that he can be that hitman and it’s become a major coup for Stoke City.
Bruno Martins Indi – The Loaned One
With Mark Hughes looking for a new centre-back partner to Shawcross: he turned to Martins Indi from Porto and brought him in on a season long loan (with a view to a permanent deal). Stoke love a loan signing: Victor Moses, Oussama Assaidi and Marko van Ginkel have all dabbled within the Stoke City squad, all with varying amounts of success. Although it’s not often that Stoke loans from the foreign market, with only Wollscheid coming in respect, and it’s a relatively new adventure for the club. Martins Indi has experience with playing in the World Cup with the Dutch and the Champions League with Porto, whilst still only being 24 years old. Time will tell if he’ll be able to synchronise with the rest of Stoke’s defence well and try to plug the gap at the back.
Ramadan Sobhi – The Promising One
One of the longest running sagas of the window, Ramadan Sobhi was brought into the club as a long term investment into the starlet’s future. The likes of Julien Ngoy and Dom Telford were brought in to enhance the youth development within the club but Ramadan appears to be quality enough to be able to break into the first team and get some Premier League action. For a fee of around €5m, Ramadan will be looking to increase his value massively during his time at Stoke and the club and player will hope that this provides the perfect platform for Sobhi to accelerate his career and live up to the expectation of him being the most talented young African player. Fans will have to be patient with Ramadan but it’s a very exciting move indeed.
Lee Clark – The Typical One
It’s very much Mark Hughes and Stoke City to bring in one the old guard and shock us all with adding someone to provide more experience than impact on the squad. Coming from Derby County as their backup goalkeeper, Grant will provide cover to Shay Given with Jack Butland having injury concerns and Jakob Haugaard less than impressing during his spell in the Premier League. A typically spontaneous signing, following the likes of Steve Sidwell and Dionatan Teixeira, Clark doesn’t seem to be one to sit in the background an be ready whenever called upon, whenever that may be.
Philipp Wollscheid – The Controversial One
Wollscheid has been one that has divided opinion at Stoke and the split continued when his announcement regarding his loan to Wolfsburg was released. Opinions regarding both his defensive and attacking abilities are questioned by fans and he follows the departures such as Robert Huth as to whether he was a fan favourite or someone who needed to leave. Inconsistent his form may have been, his presence at the back last season was not and he managed to be the only defender (including goalkeepers) to stay fit and available for the entire season. He leaves for a club who will look for a return to European football after narrowly missing out last season. Good luck to him!
Joselu – The Late One
Stoke love a last minute deal, usually becoming announced in and around the 11pm deadline. These deals are usually incomings such as Peter Crouch and Giannelli Imbula; however Joselu was the unfortunate casualty in Mark Hughes’ search for a quality striker. Joselu was never given a run of games in his debut season to prove his worth in the team, however neither were any of the other strikers at the club and it’s clear that the manager sees Joselu surplus to requirements following the arrival of Bony. He leaves for his native country where he will play for Deportivo, perhaps he will rediscover his form which brought him to the club in the first place and return a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League. Good luck Joselu!
Marko Arnautovic – The Loyal One
Perhaps the most important, and unexpected, signing of them all. Marko Arnautovic had speculation surrounding him for an entire season regarding his Stoke City future: his contract ran out in 2017 and he had a measly release clause comparatively speaking in today’s market. After a stunning season and no assurance from the player himself of resigning, Stoke fans were expecting Marko to leave after Euro 2016. Although, Austria did not play well during the tournament and were knocked out in the group stages and Arnautovic didn’t manage to build a platform for any top clubs to come looking for him. So, despite apparent interest from PSG and (mainly) Everton, Arnautovic decided to resign with Stoke City and surprised fans, players and (apparently) staff alike! The likes of Jon Walters and Ryan Shawcross have all had speculation around a new contract in previous years but, after such a magnificent season for the Potters in 2015/16, perhaps this is the most impressive of them all. Long live the King.
And there we have it: the 2016 Summer transfer window is complete! Yes, there was more business that the club could have done such as the signing of Saido Berahino and some fullback cover; but all in all the club have done extremely well to loan out some players who needed game time, bring in players of incredibly high pedigree and keep hold of their most prized assets. Stoke fans have long memories and long wanted lists as well considering the great speed that the club is evolving. It’s important to keep in mind that we have one of the best squads in Stoke City’s history and one of the better teams in the league. Let’s hope Mark Hughes can make them gel into the force we expect them to be.
Love or hate the transfer window: I bet you’re glad it’s all over.
Written by Ben Rowley
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