Apr 4, 2017
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Stoke round-up: Chelsea starlet Loftus-Cheek linked; Arnautovic urged to depart; Wilfried Bony update.

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The Daily Mail are reporting that Stoke City are members of the increasingly long queue of football clubs that are keen on signing Chelsea starlet Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

The 21-year-old is attracting the interest of numerous Premier League and Championship sides having failed to break into the first team picture at Stamford Bridge. Despite Antonio Conte being an admirer of the talented central midfielder, Loftus-Cheek has made just eight appearances for The Blues this season, the majority from the bench, and the player is now keen to satisfy his desire for regular football by heading out on loan next year.

Stoke City made a move for the youngster during the January transfer window but saw their approach rejected by Conte who wanted to ensure that his squad had enough depth to secure the Premier League title in May. However, Mark Hughes is understood to be considering reviving his interest in Loftus-Cheek in the summer and The Potters will feel confident of agreeing on a deal with the West London club having previously negotiated loan deals for Victor Moses and Marco Van Ginkel in recent years. Chelsea have little interest in selling the 21-year-old which leaves a loan deal the most likely option.

Loftus-Cheek is earning in excess of £50,000 per week with his current contract and is unwilling to join a club outside the top flight, which will rule out a number of Championship clubs and leave Stoke leading the race for his signature.

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Marko Arnautovic has been urged to depart Stoke City and move to a more elite club like “Arsenal or Tottenham” by Austrian national team legend Andreas Herzog.

The charismatic winger has become a fans favourite at the Bet365 Stadium since arriving in The Potteries in the summer of 2013, making over 100 appearances and scoring 25 goals in all competitions during three-and-a-half years. His pace, power and technical ability coupled with an obvious self-confidence and air of arrogance has cemented Arnautovic as a firm favourite in the stands and a vital component of Mark Hughes’ team on the pitch.

However, Austrian legend Herzog, who played for his country 103 times, has urged the 27-year-old to move to a club more befitting of his talents. In an article published in Krone Zeitburg (Austria’s leading newspaper), and reported in the Stoke SentinelHerzog explains:

“A lot of fans and experts laughed at me when I said years ago that Austrian football had not seen a player like Marko Arnautovic for a long time. Today, I feel totally vindicated. He has risen from the bad boy with many negative headlines to the hope of Austria.”

“Marko is great tactically, top trained and has a robust body. I’ve been comparing him with Zlatan Ibrahimovic for years. With all due respect to Stoke, it is not the club where Arnautovic should continue to play with his qualities for a long time. With his potential, he is part of an Arsenal or Tottenham.”

Herzog’s comments have followed on from Arnuatovic’s performances during the international break where he netted in both of Austria’s games against Moldova and Finland. The winger has now scored in six of his nation’s previous eleven international contests and is undoubtedly key to their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

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There is nothing to suggest that Arnuatovic has any desire to leave Stoke and in the summer he signed a new four-year contract extension with the club. However, Herzog’s comments will not sit well with Mark Hughes, who already has a number of issues with big-name players to contend with including Bojan Krkic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Giannelli Imbula.

The Sun are reporting that West Ham United are leading the race to sign Ivory Coast international Wilfried Bony.

The Manchester City striker is currently on-loan at Stoke City but has been frozen out of the first-team picture by Mark Hughes after failing to impress in North Staffordshire. Since arriving on a season-long loan the 28-year-old has made just eleven appearances and scored two goals for The Potters and has not been in the matchday squad since the turn of the year. It has become abundantly clear that Bony no longer has a future at either the Etihad Stadium or the Bet365 Stadium and that will spark a scrap for his signature in the summer.

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West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion are admirers of the striker whilst Everton are also monitoring developments whilst the future of Romelu Lukaku remains uncertain. Pep Guardiola has made it clear that Bony has no place in his future plans and Manchester City are willing to make a significant loss on a player that they signed for £25,000,000 just over two years ago. There are still two years remaining on his current deal but it is thought that the former Swansea City forward is willing to take a drop in his wage demands in order to secure first team football.

Bony was the top scorer in the Premier League during the 2014 calendar year with Swansea City and his impressive form led to a big money move to Manchester City. However, he has failed to replicate his goal scoring prowess at the Etihad Stadium and has looked completely ineffective whilst on loan at Stoke City.

Featured Image: All Rights Reserved Juan Diego Torres (Juan Diego Torres)

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Stoke City · Transfer Round-up
Martyn Cooke

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

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