One For The Money – Part 1: Defenders
The transfer window only officially opened on Saturday, yet the Premier League has already been teeming with transfer business across many clubs. Stoke City haven’t quite followed that particular trend, with the cost-free arrival of Darren Fletcher being the only deal made by the Potters. There has been promise of a major squad shake-up and an ambition to lower the average age of the squad. This ambition is gradually translating into links with individual players and, as players return from their holidays and back to training, there’s been no better time to get excited for some transfer window action. This mini-series will cover some of the players Stoke have been linked with so far, their traits and abilities and give you enough information to decide whether it’s time to fuel your transfer window fires.
The future of Stoke’s defence has been an uncertain one. Last season, Bruno Martins Indi was an essential piece to the defensive puzzle, although Stoke have yet to agree a fee to make the Dutchman’s move permanent. The future of Ryan Shawcross is also relatively uncertain: although expressing his desire to stay at the club, rumours continue to rumble and there’s no guarantee that the current skipper will be at Stoke next season. Stoke’s fullbacks have also been a cause for concern. With their ages ever increasing and last season’s performances on the whole underwhelming, it would be no surprise that they will be replaced this Summer. It’s no coincidence that Stoke have been linked with defenders aplenty, so let’s dive in…
One (For The Money) – Ben Gibson
Gibson is a 24 year old English centre back who currently plays for recently relegated Middlesbrough. His club’s drop to the Championship has sparked a host of new suitors, with Stoke thought as one of those hoping to take advantage. Boro’s defence was lauded as one of the most effective in the top flight last season despite their relegation and Gibson was one of the main reasons for their success. Known for both his capability in his defence alongside his distribution abilities, Gibson is emerging as one of England’s most promising defenders: he’s earned call-ups for the last two England squads. Being left footed, he’d synergise well with Ryan Shawcross in the left-centre back spot. Gibson would be a huge coup for Stoke and would require the Potters to fight off a number of good options in order to prise away one of Boro’s biggest assets. Gibson also has unique ties to Boro with his uncle, Steve Gibson, who is the current chairman at the club. The question remains whether Stoke would be able to meet Boro’s valuation for him, and be first in the long queue if they do.
Contract Expiry: Jul 2021 – Market Value: £6.8m – Expected Fee: £15-20m
Two (For The Show) – Jeison Murillo
Murillo is a 25 year old Columbian centre back who is on the books at Inter Milan. Once tipped to have an incredible future, Murillo hasn’t quite developed into the player Inter were expecting and has been in and out of the team as a result. Like Gibson, Murillo is known for both his tackling prowess alongside his eagerness to play out from the back; something Mark Hughes clearly admires in his defenders. Inter are reportedly looking to sell some of their assets (as they did with Xherdan Shaqiri two years ago) and Murillo looks to be one of the casualties. Their loss would be Stoke’s gain, as Murillo has plenty of top flight experience and also has 25 senior caps for his national side. Although Stoke may prefer to purchase a defender with Premier League experience, it wouldn’t be wise to turn your nose up at a player who still has plenty left in the tank and could turn out to be a bargain. Having said this, with the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Monaco both keeping tabs on the Columbian, it may be a struggle for Stoke to find the pulling power to make them first choice.
Contract Expiry: Jul 2020 – Market Value: £11m – Expected Fee: £15m
Three (To Get Ready) – Josh Tymon
Tymon is an 18 year old English left back who has broke through the ranks at relegated Hull City. Tymon was granted 325 Premier League minutes last season within an incredibly stretched Hull squad and doubts around his future have been abundant ever since. Tymon shows incredible promise for such a young man: Hull have rated him as one of the club’s brightest prospects to graduate from their academy in recent history and he has also featured for England at various youth levels. Stoke believe that, with the right training, Tymon can act as an understudy to Erik Pieters and be ready to challenge for a place in the first team within months. The Potters have been the frontrunners to sign Tymon for a lengthy spell now, however a deal between the two clubs has not been able to be reached. Stoke and the teenager’s agent believe that Tymon is out of contract and only a nominal fee is owed to Hull for the transfer to happen. Despite this, Hull claim that they have activated a clause in Tymon’s contract to keep him at the club for a further season and a more lofty figure would be necessary for a transfer to happen. Either way, Tymon is expected to become a Stoke player this Summer; it’s just a question of how much it will take.
Contract Expiry: up to Jul 2018 – Market Value: £850k – Expected Fee: up to £2m (tribunal)
Four (To Go) – Philipp Wollscheid
Wollscheid has experienced a turbulent time at Stoke City and has divided fans’ opinion of him as a result. Initially on loan, Stoke made the transfer of the German giant for just over £3m and he heavily featured in the 2015/16 Premier League season. However, Wollscheid was deemed surplus to requirements last Summer and swapped the red and white of Stoke for the green of Wolfsburg, back to the Bundesliga. His time there was also turbulent, with Wollscheid initially banished from the squad, then playing a crucial part to Wolfsburg’s survival in the German top flight, and then sent back to the Potteries after a permanent-transfer clause not being activated by Wolfsburg. His playstyle is controversial: he seems intelligent when out of possession and regularly comfortable with it; however the German isn’t blessed with pace and has also made a few blunders whilst playing out from the back. It’s unclear whether Wollscheid will be welcomed back into the Stoke fold but, after last Summer, it looks likely that he will be shown the door. Perhaps it’s for the best for his career: at 28 years old he’s approaching his peak ability-wise and, with one year remaining on his Stoke contract, some clubs could pick him up for peanuts.
Contract Expiry: Jul 2018 – Market Value: £2.1m – Expected Fee: £2-3m
One For The Money takes inspiration from Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Suede Shoes’.
Written by Ben Rowley
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