Why Stoke don’t need to spend to replace Arnautovic

Today’s the day Arnautovic has left and there is a worry that he is taking with him most of the attacking force that Stoke had, but now is the time for the board to show faith in youth and spend the money from this transfer wisely.

The fee that Stoke are receiving for the Austrian is best spent elsewhere. Stoke will most likely have the whole 24 million figure to be able to spend, as there is no need to pay off Arnie’s contract due to his transfer request, yet still this figure is not a large enough sum to be able to truly replace Arnautovic.

In the current bloated transfer market, where Championship players are commanding double figure fees, it is unlikely Stoke will only be able to use the money for the Arnie deal in finding his replacement. Yes, there have been rumours of a deal around 18 million Euros for Gremio’s Luan, but this is still a risk as there is no guarantee the Brazilian settles into the Premier league quickly.

Whereas 24 million invested into the defence and centre of midfield could solve all manner of problems. Right back is still looking a worrying prospect as Bardsley seems to have succumbed to a long-term injury problem; Glen Johnson has carried his abject form from 2017 into pre-season; and, Tom Edwards is not ready to be first choice right back. Meanwhile the centre of defence would still greatly benefit from the permanent signing of Bruno Martins Indi.

And should Giannelli Imbula not be a part of Mark Hughes’ plans then a quality midfielder is required to be brought in. It is not too implausible to suggest that the 24 million pounds could cover all three of these positions if the right moves are made, whilst it appears it would be somewhat wasted on a like for like replacement, especially considering the considerable young talent in this area.

Ramadan Sobhi chose Stoke over many other European suitors’ due to the clear progression he could see to first team football. This is the same case with Julien Ngoy and Thibaud Verlinden. And it is time to give the kids a chance. The work of Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs should be an example for all clubs who cannot compete financial with the giants of the Premier League. His overwhelming faith in young footballers has given Spurs a side that they could have had no hope of assembling in competition with the big boys, financially.

Stoke don’t just have to compete with the financial giants, but also with the Tottenham’s, and the Everton’s, and even clubs similar to Stoke in size and reputation. This means Stoke need to find a niche, as simply attempting to compete financially would totally contravene the self-sustaining model that Peter Coates has worked hard to cement into the foundations of the club. With no end in sight to the increase of spending in the Premier League, Stoke’s decision to invest in the academy, seek to bring in top quality talent at a very young age and make the most of emerging football markets, seems sensible.

And the decision on how to replace Arnautovic leaves Stoke with a clear cross road, with either decision having far reaching effects for the future of the football club. If the board decide to replace Arnautovic by signing a new player, a clear statement will be sent out to the current crop of youth players and any future young Stoke players. Stoke will be no different to the majority of the Premier League, simply looking for instant results by throwing money at the problem.

Yet if we choose to give Ramadan, backed by Ngoy and Verlinden, the opportunity to develop into the potential world beater he can be, we would set a precedent that could potentially change the future of the club. To choose to replace the most important attacker in the side over the past to season’s, with youth, instead of throwing money at the problem, would set Stoke apart from the rest.

It would be a clear indication to any young player given a choice between Stoke and another club. Stoke is the place for you. Stoke is the place where youth is given a chance to develop and thrive. Stoke is the place to come if you are serious about reaching the top echelons of professional football. Would choosing the trust the youth over a new signing to replace Arnautovic be a risk? Yes of course it would, but it could be the first step in a brighter future.

Written by Tom Thrower

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