Three players Stoke City should target during the January transfer window
After a making a stuttering start to the season, in which they picked up just one point from their opening five fixtures, Stoke City have climbed back into their familiar mid-table position in the top flight of English football following an extended run of positive results.
Mark Hughes has guided The Potters to three consecutive top-ten finishes since being appointed as manager in 2013 and the Welshman has successfully cemented the club as an established top-half Premier League side. However, there is a growing consensus in North Staffordshire that Stoke should be looking to make a genuine push for European football having invested substantially in players of international repute, such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Giannelli Imbula. If Hughes is to move the club onto the ‘next level’ then he still has plenty of work to do in the when the transfer window reopens.
Here are three players that Stoke City should look to sign in January….
During his three-and-a-half years as manager, Mark Hughes has gradually converted and remoulded Stoke City from a team relying on physicality, organisation and set-plays, to a side comprising of some of Europe’s most exciting attacking players producing some of the smoothest, free-flowing football that supporters have witnessed in almost a generation.
However, the current squad is somewhat unbalanced and top heavy, with an abundance of forward players but an obvious shortage of defensive options. This is exemplified in the central midfield department, where Glenn Whelan remains the clubs only genuine defensive midfielder amongst colleagues such as Bojan Krkic, Ibrahim Afellay, Giannelli Imbula, Steven Ireland, Charlie Adam and Joe Allen. Mark Hughes’ reliance on offence has left the current team with a soft defensive underbelly that needs resolving.
Morgan Schneiderlin would certainly fit the bill. The French midfielder has been told that he is surplus to requirements at Manchester United with new manager Jose Mourinho confirming that the 27-year-old is free to leave in January should a suitable offer be received. The defensive midfielder has found playing opportunities limited since a £25,000,000 move from Southampton is 2015 and has made just three appearances in the Premier League this campaign, all from the bench.
However, Schneiderlin undoubtedly will have plenty to offer an upper-mid-table club such as Stoke. Physically imposing, defensively solid and technically proficient, the Frenchman would provide Mark Hughes with the perfect foil to protect his back-four that will allow the offensive talents of Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic the freedom to cause chaos further up the pitch.
The price-tag may be an issue – United are rumoured to want around £20,000,000 in order to let Schneiderlin move on – but the Frenchman would be a perfect fit for The Potters.