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Stoke City

Stoke round-up: Palace winger targeted; Joselu’s form praised; 36-year-old demands game time

Martyn Cooke

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Stoke

The Sun are reporting that Stoke City are preparing a £15 million bid for Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend as Mark Hughes continues to look for reinforcements before the season starts in just over one week.

The Potters have signed just three players so far this summer and have yet to make any significant financial outlay, bringing in West Bromwich Albion captain Darren Fletcher (free transfer), Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma (season-long loan), and 18-year-old Josh Tymon from relegated Hull City (tribunal).

Hughes has insisted that the club are working hard behind the scenes to bring in new players but there is a general feeling around the Bet365 Stadium that the current first team squad still requires significant investment in order to be ready for the new campaign.

The departure of star winger Marko Arnautovic, who joined Premier League rivals West Ham United earlier in the transfer window came as a heavy blow and has left Stoke urgently requiring an experienced, creative forward. Hughes has identified former England international Townsend as possible target and is reportedly willing to offer £15m in order to tempt Crystal Palace to sell.

Townsend only arrived at Selhurst Park twelve months ago after Alan Pardew triggered the £12m release clause in his Newcastle United contract. However the winger, who has been capped 13 times by England, has struggled to find his rhythm and consistency in South London and new Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer could be tempted to cash-in at the right price in order to raise funds for his own transfer plans.

Meanwhile former Potteries football icon Robbie Earle, who played for cross-city rivals Port Vale during the 1980s, believes that Stoke have found the answer to their goal scoring dilemma following the return of Spanish striker Joselu.

The 27-year-old was signed by The Potters in 2015 but spent last season on loan at Deportivo La Coruna after falling down the pecking order at the Bet365 Stadium.

The Spaniard was expected to be sold during the summer but has suddenly emerged as the leading candidate to spearhead Stoke’s forward line in the opening fixture against Everton after scoring four goals in two pre-season friendlies. Joselu initially began the close-season working with the under-23 squad but has netted back-to-back braces for the first team in contests against Bolton Wanders and St Pauli.

Stoke have been searching for a prolific goal scorer since their arrival in the Premier League a decade ago with Mark Hughes seemingly pinning his hopes on Saido Berahino for the forthcoming campaign. However, Earle, speaking in his column for the Stoke Sentinel, believes that Joselu’s pre-season form could earn him a starting spot when The Potters kick off their season at Goodison Park.

“Joselu’s form has given boss Mark Hughes something to think about. I’m not sure if Hughes’ plan will have been completely thrown up in the air by [his] pre-season form, but at the moment, why wouldn’t you play him in that opening game at Goodison?”

However, Joselu is not the only Stoke player looking to stake his claim for a spot as Mark Hughes’ preferred striker when the new season commences.

Peter Crouch finished the previous campaign as The Potters leading goal scorer, after netting 10 times in all competitions, and the 36-year-old is determined to prove that he is still a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League. The former England star insists that there are no doubts about his fitness, sharpness or ability to score goals in the top tier of English football and, speaking to the Stoke Sentinel, he explained:

“It was nice to score 10 goals last season because at the start of every season I tend to get written off. I believe in myself and I believe that I should be starting games … given a run of games I think that I can score goals. I can compete for 90 minutes no problem whatsoever and if we play a certain way then I’m always going to be a threat.”

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.

Stoke City

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.

Mathew Nash

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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.

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 30: Kevin Wimmer of Stoke City looks dejected following the Premier League match between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on December 30, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images)

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.

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Everton

One winner, one loser as Cuco Martina completes Stoke loan move

The 28-year-old completed a loan switch to the Championship.

Max Cohen

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Martina
Photo: Getty Images

On Friday afternoon, Everton defender Cuco Martina completed a season-long loan move to Stoke City.

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.

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Burnley

One winner and loser as Stoke City close in on signing Sam Clucas

Stoke look set to sign the Swansea midfielder on deadline day

Liam Thomas

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Photo: Getty Images

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.

(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

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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