The Sun are reporting that Stoke City have entered the race to sign Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the club begins to look for a replacement for Marko Arnautovic after the Austrian forced through a transfer to West Ham United last week.
Cahmberlain, a full England international, joined The Gunners in 2011 from Southampton in a £12 million deal but has failed to make a significant impact at The Emirates Stadium. Injuries, inconsistent form and competition for places has meant that Chamberlain has been unable to cement a place in Arsene Wenger’s starting eleven and there is a sense that the midfielder needs a fresh start to rejuvenate his starting career.
When questioned about a potential move by the Stoke Sentinel, Mark Hughes kept his cards close to his chest:
“We get linked with a lot of players. Some will be realistic, others won’t be. We’re in the market trying to get good players in. I can’t really help you in terms of progress but we’re working exceptionally hard to try to get players in who will help us and have an impact.”
Arsenal will be looking to receive in excess of £25 million before they consider cashing in on the 23-year-old, although, the fact that the player has just twelve months remaining on his current contract could give Stoke some leverage to negotiate a lower fee. Hughes will be hoping that the promise of guaranteed first team football will be enough to convince Chamberlain to move to The Potteries with the midfielder keen to earn a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad with next year’s World Cup closing in.
Stoke City chairman Peter Coates has blasted Marko Arnautovic for forcing a move away from the Bet365 Stadium and stated that he expected more loyalty from the player after the club “resurrected” his career.
The Austrian winger joined West Ham United last week in a deal that could be worth up to £25 million, but has left The Potters hierarchy distinctly unimpressed by his actions. Stoke made Arnautovic the highest paid player at the club last year when he signed a new long-term contract but handed in a transfer request just twelve months later. Speaking to talkSPORT, as reported by the Mirror, Coates explained that the transfer had left a bitter taste:
“We are disappointed in him personally and the people around him. We resurrected his career. Our manager and coaches worked very hard to improve him and made him a name in the game. Last year we spent so much effort into giving him a long-term contract and the first thing we get in the summer [is that] he comes back and wants to leave.”
Meanwhile, BBC Sport have confirmed that Stoke have sold defender Phil Bardsley to Premier League rivals for an undisclosed fee.
The 32-year-old will join up with former team mate Jonathan Walters, who moved to Turf Moor from The Potters earlier in the summer, and has signed a two-year deal with Sean Dyche’s side. He becomes Burnley’s fourth signing of the summer and will provide The Clarets with an abundance of experience having played for Manchester United, Sunderland and Stoke in the Premier League over the course of the last decade.
Mark Hughes has been remoulding his Stoke squad during the close season and Bardsley becomes the latest player to depart the Bet365 Stadium as the Welshman looks to invest in youth. Jonathan Walters (32) and Glenn Whelan (33) have also left in recent weeks which will open a pathway for emerging academy talent such as 18-year-old full-back Tom Edwards.
Speaking to the Stoke Sentinel, Hughes admitted that he was aiming to reduce the average age of the Stoke squad and that he decided to cash-in on Bardsley after being impressed by youngster Edwards.
“I’ve spoken about trying to reduce the amount of senior players and introducing younger players at the top end of the squad. Phil [Bardsley] was obviously part of that thinking and the emergence of Tom Edwards had been really significant. We feel that we’re happy enough [with the progress made by Edwards] to let Phil get a longer contract at another club”.