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Stoke City: New striker speaks out; ground expansion set to start; Spanish star departs

Stoke City

Stoke City: New striker speaks out; ground expansion set to start; Spanish star departs

BBC Sport have confirmed that Bojan Krkic has joined Bundesliga side Mainz on loan for the remainder of the season.

The diminutive Spanish forward has found first team opportunities limited this campaign despite signing a new long-term contract last year. He has made just five starts in the Premier League so far this season and has fallen further down the pecking order following the arrivals of Joe Allen in the summer and Saido Berahino earlier in January.

Mainz currently sit 11th in the Bundesliga and it would appear that a loan move is beneficial for all parties involved. Bojan now has the opportunity to play regular first team football in Germany whilst Stoke will be able to re-evaluate the forward’s long-term future at the end of the season. If the Spaniard can demonstrate an improvement in his immediate form then it is likely that The Potters will look to reintegrate the 26-year-old into Mark Hughes’ side.

Bojan arrived in North Staffordshire in the summer of 2014 from Barcelona and has become a favourite amongst supporters for his technical ability and creativity on the ball. However, he has struggled to cement a place in the starting eleven this campaign and his departure comes as little surprise.

The forward has indicated on Twitter that his move to Germany does not necessarily signal the end of his Stoke career:

“For the time being, this isn’t a goodbye to Stoke City, it’s just a ‘see you soon’”.

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Saido Berahino has insisted that he is not a troublemaker and that he believes his controversial departure from West Bromwich Albion has made him a better person.

The 23-year-old secured a £12,000,000 (with a potential £3,000,000 in add-ons) move to The Potters last week but has been characterised as having a bad attitude and poor mentality by his detractors. The striker has been surrounded by controversy for 18 months and, having made it clear that he saw his future away from the Hawthorns, was frozen out of the

The striker has been surrounded by controversy for 18 months and, having made it clear that he saw his future away from the Hawthorns, was frozen out of the first-team by West Brom manager Tony Pulis.

However, Berahino told the Staffordshire Sentinel that he now just wants to focus on playing football:

“[The supporters] can expect a honest lad. I love the game … I just want to help my new team mates by climbing up that table, enjoy my football and put smiles on people’s faces”.

Discussing his time at West Brom, the striker said:

“I’m a great believer in things happening for a reason. I got taught a lesson and it’s made me a better person. It was my first proper training session today and it was nice not to have negative thoughts about training”.

Berahino could be included in the Stoke City team that faces Everton on Wednesday evening but is more likely to make his debut against, ironically, West Brom next weekend.

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Stoke City are pushing ahead with their plans to develop and extend the Bet365 Stadium with contractors set to start work as early as next week according to Sky Sports News.

The south-east corner of the ground, which is currently occupied by a scoreboard, will be filled in and rounded off to add a further 1,800 seats whilst additional provisions for disabled supporters are also set to be added. Existing seating arrangements will also be modernised with 17,000 new seats set to be installed across the ground.

The developments will take the capacity of the Bet 365 Stadium over the 30,000 mark as the club continue to make significant progress both on and off the field. The Potters announced record season ticket sales during the summer and demand for tickets is at an all-time high following three consecutive top-ten finishes in the Premier League under the guidance of Mark Hughes.

Stoke are also responding to recommendations made by the Accessible Stadia Guide in relation to the planned improvements being made for disabled supporters. The club are set to install additional disabled bays and a new high-level wheelchair platform whilst also developing the current mid-terrace bays.

Contractors are due to commence work early next week and one of their first tasks will be to remove the current score board in the south-east corner of the ground. It is likely that the existing big screen will be used for the final time for Stoke’s Premier League fixture against Everton on Wednesday.

It will be the first major development undertaken by the club since they moved into the stadium twenty years ago.

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Stoke City defender Dionatan Teixeira has departed English football after the Premier League outfit cancelled the remainder of the player’s contract by mutual consent.

The 24-year-old has only made two appearances for The Potters since signing a three-year contract in the summer of 2014 and has failed to make any real significant impact in North Staffordshire.

The Brazilian-born Slovakian made his Stoke debut in February 2015 as a substitute in the 2-1 victory against Aston Villa with his only other appearance coming in a 3-1 win over Bournemouth one year later. The central defender has never really looked capable of breaking into the first team and has often struggled to make the match day squad on a regular basis.

According to the Staffordshire Sentinel, Teixeira has been participating in trial matches in Slovakia and could be set to sign for MFK Ruzomberok after he played in the club’s recent friendly fixture during their mid-season break.

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The Staffordshire Sentinel have highlighted the continuing struggles of Stoke City’s academy system by revealing that the club have used the least amount of youth team players in first team fixtures so far this season.

Only one academy graduate, Julien N’Goy, has broken into the The Potters’ senior side this campaign with the Belgian youth international having made four appearances as a substitute. However, this falls way below the number of youth team prospects that other Premier League clubs have included in competitive first team action.

Southampton and Tottenham have both given 16 academy graduates opportunities to represent the senior team whilst Manchester United have seen 29 of their youth team graduates, past and present, feature under Jose Mourinho or at other Premier League clubs this term.

The statistics demonstrate that Stoke City are still trailing behind their rivals in terms of producing their own players despite significant investment from chairman Peter Coates.

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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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