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Stoke City, who were persistently securing a top-half finish and closing in on a European slot under Mark Hughes, suffered a massive setback last term as they slipped to a 13th placed league finish and eventually lost a number of key players prior to the upcoming campaign.
Marko Arnautovic, the 28-year old Austrian winger, has been the most radical egress among them, who completed a £24m move to league rivals West Ham United after handing in a transfer request. The Potters, thus, are lining up his replacement despite relying on Egyptian winger Ramadan Sobhi, who is tipped to step up following his impressive outings in a limited number of opportunities last season.
Hughes has brought in a number of high profile names including Xherdan Shaquiri, Bojan Krkic, Ibrahim Afellay and Joe Allen, since joining the Staffordshire outfit back in 2013. He, however, is exploring other options and is monitoring top notch attackers who will help them achieve his season’s goals and recover lost ground by challenging for a place in Europe once more.
We have scouted three such names who can add quality to the Stoke squad by replacing Arnautovic.
Current Club: Free Agent
Ghezzal, the 25-year old Algerian winger, is being tracked by a host of Premier League and Turkish outfits after being released by French heavyweights Olympic Lyon upon expiration of his contract. Ghezzal progressed through the youth ranks of Lyon and is known for his dribbling skills along with strong set-piece ability, an admirable range of passing, along with shooting traits. He loves to cut inside, do layoffs and has all other attributes required to flourish on the wings. He has been released by his boyhood club following contract disputes. The Potters must act fast to bring him in by rendering an alluring contract offer.
Current Club: Arsenal
This might sound a bit outrageous but this is football and anything can happen! As unbelievable as it may sound, the Sun have reported that Oxlade-Chamberlain is a target for Stoke City, who are discussing a £25million move with the Englishman’s agent.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has just a little less than a year left on his current contract at the Emirates and a transfer looks highly possible. ‘The Ox’ is extremely talented and is an absolute beast. His versatility has been astonishing to watch as he played in a whopping 8 positions last season. Yes, you read that right!
He is one of the most talented young Englishmen around and he would be an absolute steal at £25million. This is a no-brainer for Stoke as Ox would be a massive, massive improvement on Arnautovic.
Current Club: FC Porto
The Algerian winger has been regular for the Portuguese heavyweights FC Porto and has previously been linked with a move to Premier League with the likes of Everton. Although he is valued around £35m by his current employers, Brahimi will bring in pace, strong passing and dribbling skills along with directness in Stoke’s attacking third.