Stoke City have today announced the signing of former Real Madrid star Jese Rodriguez on a season-long loan from prestigious French side Paris Saint-Germain, putting an abrupt end to speculation that the club have been ‘lacking ambition’.
The Potters have been criticised by various media outlets over the previous two weeks for their failure to make any significant investment during the summer transfer window, having spent just £7 million since the end of the previous campaign.
The Mirror revealed that TalkSPORT’s Adrian Durham asked his listeners last week “what is the point in Stoke?”, whilst Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson slammed the club on Saturday afternoon for a “lack of ambition”.
However, the arrival of Jese is widely perceived as a positive piece of business with The Telegraph describing the move as “a huge coup” for Stoke manager Mark Hughes as he attempts to rebuild a first team squad that looked desperately in need of being freshened up last season.
The 24-year-old, who can play either as a striker or a winger, will step into the Bet365 Stadium at the weekend with a prestigious reputation having spent nine years with Real Madrid. He made his debut at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2011 and rose to prominence in the 2012/13 season when he scored eight goals in 31 appearances as Los Blancos won the Champions League and Copa del Ray.
Despite making a promising start to his career in Spain Jese found regular match time hard to come at Real Madrid, with a serious knee injury in 2014 forcing him to spend almost a year out of the game. He returned to first team action during the 2015/2016 season but was little more than a bit-part player as the club won the Champions League trophy for a second time in four years.
Last summer the Spaniard agreed a five-year-contract with Paris Saint-Germain after Real Madrid facilitated a £21 million transfer. However, Jese has failed to settle in the French capital, scoring just two goals in 14 appearances, and spent the second half of his debut season on loan at hometown club Las Palmas.
His return to Paris coincided with the arrival of Neymar and it soon became apparent that he had been earmarked as one of the players who would be heading through the exit door in order to subsidise the Brazilian superstars astronomical wages.
What does the signing mean for Stoke City?
Mark Hughes has been striving to add more creativity and firepower to his Stoke City squad following the departure of star winger Marko Arnautovic earlier in the summer.
The Austrian had been directly involved in 25% of The Potters’ goals last season and his move to West Ham United came as a significant blow for a team that is not renowned for being prolific if front of goal.
Jese arrives at the Bet365 Stadium on a season-long loan with an abundance of technical ability and creativity but, possibly more importantly, he comes with a point to prove and is desperately in need of a fresh challenge to kick-start his stuttering career.
His ability is not in doubt, despite injuries blunting what was once a devastating cutting-edge, and it is perhaps telling that Paris Saint-Germain refused to insert a buy-out clause in their negotiations with Stoke.
The Potters lumbered to an opening day defeat at Goodison Park on Saturday and looked short of creativity in the final third with Jordan Pickford not being forced into a meaningful save until the 93rd minute of the match.
Mark Hughes will be hoping that the arrival of Jese coupled with the existing attacking talents of Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan Krkic, Eric Maxim Choupo Moting and Ramadam Sobhi will provide enough firepower to drive the club into the top-ten for the forthcoming season.
If Stoke can rejuvenate Jese Rodriguez’s career it may be that some critics in the media will be regretting their comments regarding the club’s so-called “lack of ambition” by the end of the season.