On Wednesday morning, Leicester City announced that Robert Huth would be leaving the club at the end of the season after three-and-a-half years with the Foxes.
The German defender has made 93 appearances during that period, scoring six goals, and became a fans favourite at the King Power Stadium for the prominent role that he played in the club’s recent success.
He was a crucial facet of the Leicester team that were crowned Premier League champions in 2016 and was widely admired for his tough, no-nonsense style of defending.
However, Huth will go into the summer as a free agent after the Foxes decided not to renew his contract when it concludes at the end of the campaign.
The German has struggled to regain his place in the first team squad since suffering a string of injuries in the closing stages of last season and is behind the likes of Wes Morgan, Harry Maguire and Aleksander Dragovic in the pecking order for a starting role.
Huth remains a popular figure among Stoke supporters after his contributions helped to establish the club in the Premier League, reach an FA Cup final and progress to the latter stages of the Europa League.
His central defensive partnership with club captain Ryan Shawcross is widely perceived by fans as being the best in the club’s modern era.
With the Potters being relegated to the Sky Bet Championship and Huth set to leave Leicester in the summer, some Stoke supporters have been left wondering if the German is set for a dream homecoming.
The current Stoke squad will undoubtedly experience a dramatic overhaul during the summer as the club prepares for life in the second tier and the departure of Kurt Zouma, who returns to Chelsea when his loan expires next week, will mean that the Potters will be in the market for a defensive replacement.
However, the potential signing of Huth would not represent a positive move.
The central defender is now 34-years-old and has barely featured for Leicester over the last twelve months. In fact, the German has yet to make an appearance this season and has struggled with multiple consecutive injuries over the last year.
If The Potters are serious about reclaiming their place in the Premier League then they must avoid trying to relive the past and start to look to the future.
Regardless of the place that Huth has in the hearts of Stoke supporters, it makes little sense objectively to purchase an aging defender who has barely played in twelve months.
Attempting to recreate the glory days of half-a-decade ago is unlikely to solve the club’s current issues in the here and now.
A defensive partnership of Huth and Shawcross would have a combined age of 64 – you have to question how effective the pairing would be in the intense world of football in the Championship where the games come thick and fast with often two matches a week in a congested fixture list.
There is little to gain from trying to relive the past.
Instead, Stoke should be looking to bring together a young, hungry group of players that are developing towards the prime of their careers and still have everything to prove.
It should be about building with the future in mind, rather than reminiscing about creating an ‘old boys’ club.
A return for Huth to the Bet365 Stadium would be an idealistic and romanticised concept in the minds of some supporters, but is he truly the best option?
Huth will forever be remembered as a genuine Stoke City legend, but he represents the past and it is the future that the club need to be focusing on.
A return to ‘The Potteries’ may be a romantic notion for some supporters, yet it would not represent forward thinking or progress for a club that needs to rebuild after a period of regression.
Kevin Wimmer scores on Hannover debut as he puts Stoke nightmare behind him
The Austrian defender had an awful time at Stoke City last season.
When Stoke City signed Kevin Wimmer last summer it looked like something of a coup from the Potters. The Austrian had impressed at Tottenham during his time at White Hart Lane. Unfortunately, game time became hard to come by due to the excellence of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen at the back for Spurs.
Wimmer was therefore sold to Stoke last summer for a fee in the region of £18 million. Mark Hughes was ecstatic with the signing but his form did not justify his exaggerated price-tag.
Wimmer struggled under Hughes and things got even worse when the Welshman left. Replaced by Paul Lambert, the new manager swiftly moved wimmer into the reserves. Told to lose weight he played no part in Stoke’s failed attempt to survive relegation from the Premier League.
This summer, with Stoke relegated, Wimmer was moved on. He joined Hannover in a season-long loan deal back in May.
At the weekend he began his first steps in forgetting his Stoke City nightmare. The Austrian played his first game for his new club in the DFB Pokal against Karlsruher. Not only did he play, but he also managed to score. It was his first goal since scoring v Liverpool in the League Cup back in 2016 whilst at Spurs.
He scored the opening goal of a convincing 6-0 win, powering home a close-range header.
Wimmer will long be remembered as one of Stoke’s biggest ever flops. But it seems he is certainly enjoying himself back in Germany.
One winner, one loser as Cuco Martina completes Stoke loan move
The 28-year-old completed a loan switch to the Championship.
The Curacao international had seen his opportunities at Goodison Park limited and will be eager to help the Potters achieve promotion.
Here is one winner and one loser from the loan deal, as Martina will be pleased by the prospect of consistent football but Stoke’s underperforming defenders may be at risk of losing their place.
Winner: Cuco Martina
During his debut year at Goodison Park, Martina always played with impressive desire but never looked like a player of top quality.
The defender, who is more comfortable as a right back, performed with admirable effort when asked to play left back last season, but was largely off the pace.
After Everton purchased ex-Barcelona defender Lucas Digne this summer, Martina must have realised he was not in Marco Silva’s future plans.
A move away from Merseyside will do the Curacao international a world of good, granting him consistent first team football and a chance to shine at an ambitious club looking to return to the top flight.
Loser: Stoke City’s underperforming defenders
The Potters largely kept last season’s Premier League squad intact, including their full-backs Erik Pieters and Moritz Bauer.
However, these same players that were relegated with Stoke are failing to light the Championship on fire. The club is still searching for its first win of the season and is mired in 22nd in the league after the first two matches.
With the addition of Martina, Pieters and Bauer will undoubtedly be looking over their shoulders nervously and wondering if their first team berth is at risk.
The two underperforming full-backs could be axed from Gary Rowett’s lineup in favour of the Everton loanee, as Martina will be eager to prove his worth at his new club.
One winner and loser as Stoke City close in on signing Sam Clucas
Stoke look set to sign the Swansea midfielder on deadline day
Stoke City are closing in on a deal to sign Swansea midfielder Sam Clucas in a fee thought to be around £6 million, a shrewd bit of business from The Potters, who will be looking to improve on their Championship opening day defeat.
Manager Gary Rowett will be hoping the midfielder can hit the ground running and bring with him some much-needed versatility that his current midfield options lack.
Stoke haven’t been able to find a permanent central midfielder capable of running the show since Steven N’Zonzi’s departure in 2015. However, Clucas may just be the man to fill the void.
Winner – Stoke’s midfield
Clucas will bring with him a versatility to play anywhere in the midfield, a trait which their current options all lack and a quality vital to succeeding in the Championship.
During his time at Hull City, Clucas played left wing, left back, defensive midfield and a number 10 role; a testament to the 28-year-old’s ability and something Stoke can use to their advantage this season.
Clucas is comfortable on the ball and has a passing range which is second to none. If the Potters are going to gain promotion back to the Premier League they’ll need a midfielder with these kinds of attributes in their side.
Loser – Burnley
It seemed as though Burnley would be the destination for Clucas this season. However, in a sudden change of events Sean Dyche’s side lost out on their target.
This will be a blow for Dyche’s side, who have struggled terribly during this transfer window, despite securing European football for the first time in the clubs history last season.
It remains to be seen whether or not they’ll make a move for anyone else today before the deadline strikes, but a few deadline day signings wouldn’t go amiss for Dyche’s men.
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