Nick Powell loans and transfer operations as Stoke City head to 20-man contract dilemma
Stoke City is going through a vital 13 month period in a long term construction project.
The owners believe and want to offer stability – but the results can crush it and this has led four managers to leave in less than two years as the club have gone from Premier League midfielder to relegated to the league .
It is clear that they are sure to have the right man at the helm now in Michael o’neill, who was given permission to help reshape the club behind the scenes. He played a big role in the overhaul of the scouting and recruiting services, he developed the first team bond with the academy.
But there are some big, short-term challenges to overcome even if you have an eye on the big picture.
O’Neill inherited a locker room where 37 players had first-time team experience and he described how he tried to tear down a squad at the same time as building one that can challenge promotion while under stress financial fair play.
Here are some of the key questions that keep coming up along the way.
Do any of the players currently on loan have a future at Stoke?
Lasse Sorensen is still only 21 and has had a useful season on loan at MK Dons in League One, his first real taste of regular men’s football and having to fight for a jersey every week.
Tom edwards, 22, is hoping to revive his career at Stoke with a year with the New York Red Bulls.
It will be unlikely that any of the others currently absent from the club will return and start over. All will still be under contract at Stoke next season, but all will be looking for new homes in the summer, hopefully permanently but – especially in the current market – possibly on loan again.
O’Neill said last week: “The decisions we made to let the players go on loan, first of all during the summer, looked good to the club in terms of personnel and financially because it has hurt us. allowed to reinvest in the team.
“Second, the players we let go in January hadn’t played much in the first half of the season. To be fair to these players, we felt it was in their best interests and the club’s best interests. .
“There are two types of loans. You can send a player on development loan, a Harry Souttar type loan, a Lasse Sorensen type loan, or you can send a player because he doesn’t affect your first team. I think this last guy, it’s very difficult for this player to come back and get back into the club because the club has to move forward, the team has to move forward.
“At this point I made the decision that I don’t think they are the right player to help us move forward.
“They are still under contract, we have to take that into account, and in the future we have to find solutions for these players.”
The team that Michael O’Neill inherited
Has since left the club: Jack Butland, Adam Federici, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Ryan Shawcross, Stephen Ward, Mark Duffy, Giannelli Imbula, Ollie Shenton, Mame Diouf, Scott Hogan, Julien Ngoy, Thibaud Verlinden
Currently on loan: Moritz Bauer, Tom Edwards, Liam Lindsay, Bruno Martins Indi, Kevin Wimmer, Peter Etebo, Badou Ndiaye, Lasse Sorensen, Ryan Woods, Benik Afobe, Lee Gregory, Tom Ince
Still in Stoke: Adam Davies, Danny Batth, Nathan Collins, Tommy Smith, Harry Souttar, Josh Tymon, Joe Allen, Sam Clucas, Jordan Cousins, James McClean, Nick Powell, Tyrese Campbell, Sam Vokes
Nick Powell will he get a new contract soon?
Jordan Cousins is the only senior player out of contract in Stoke this summer. There are 20 senior players out of contract in the summer of 2022.
They fall into three camps: for some it will be a blessing, Stoke will want to tie some and some are still decisions to be made based on age, potential, value or quality.
Nick powell feels like a good wedding in Stoke. He’s on a good deal right now at a club down the street where he’s the lead man with the facilities, support and platform to realize his potential. He’s just turned 27 and he’s scored 11 and scored three more this season with hopefully his best football yet to come.
As for the list of talks on what will happen next, it will be near the top. It will be fascinating to see how many of the group below will be here for 2022/23.
Tony scholes said last week: “I think as you go down in the leagues the contracts tend to be shorter. If you look at the League One and League Two teams, they will mostly run on contracts. 12 or 24 months where in the Premier League they tend to be longer because they protect the value of the asset, so it’s kind of us moving from the Premier League to the Championship.
“There is also, to be honest, the pandemic effect. It has had a devastating effect on the market that clubs are really afraid to invest in players and put players on long contracts because nobody knows Where is the market going. We have In the last two transfer windows there hasn’t been a lot of activity. Maybe our situation reflects the broader market to some extent.
“But that doesn’t mean everyone on the squad is on short-term contracts. A number of players – and I can speak of the young players, Tyrese (Campbell), Harry (Souttar), Nathan (Collins) , Joe Bursik – have all signed long-term contracts in the relatively recent past to ensure that we have the strong backbone of the team going forward. “
Out of contract in 2022: Joe Allen, Danny Batth, James Chester, Sam Clucas, Adam Davies, Steven Fletcher, Lee Gregory, Tom Ince, Liam Lindsay, Bruno Martins Indi, James McClean, Badou Ndiaye, John Obi Mikel, Nick Powell, Tommy Smith, Jordan Thompson, Josh Tymon, Sam Vokes, Kevin Wimmer, Ryan Woods.
How will Stoke approach the summer transfer window?
The objective is clear for Town of Stoke this summer: to find players of a good age who will improve the first team and transform a mid-table team into a team that challenges for a place in the top six.
The return of Nathan Collins and Tyrese Campbell and a better wind with injuries than they’ve had in recent months, as well as the growing experience of players like Harry Souttar and Jordan Thompson should also help.
The problem is, Stoke won’t be able to dip into their owners’ pockets due to the EFL rules on investing. The end of parachute payments and a year of football behind closed doors have made the financial tightrope even tighter – but the exodus of players, even on loan, has been and can be helpful.
There are some interesting points.
Stoke’s recruiting service will explore all avenues to find the right player at the right price. This could be the loan of young Premier League stars, elite or league free agents, or players who can upgrade to Ligue 1 or Ligue 2, Scotland or Ireland.
There are also players who will come out of the youth system, although maybe not all at the same time next season. O’Neill keeps a brief overview and speaks regularly with Academy Director Gareth Owen about the journeys of players like Christian Norton and Kieran Coates, Adam Porter and Tom Sparrow, Eddie Jones and … well, it’s a long list at the moment.
O’Neill said last week: “I think you have to look at all the markets. For example, we signed Alfie Doughty from League One and Jordan Thompson from League One. Jordan made a significant contribution for a fairly modest sum. in terms of what we spent.
“I think with any player that goes up there is a period of time where they have to get used to this level, so you can’t have too many players like that. You can’t have too many draft players. For lack of a better word, you have to balance with the right guys. I think there are League One and Two players who can step up.
“The other market you need to look at is the Premier League, player loans available.
“Sometimes in Ligue 1 and 2 you get a different player profile. Sometimes you get a player who has been disappointed and is starting to rebuild his career at a smaller club and who really wants to do well. believed that Jordan Thompson is a good example Jacob Brown is also an example.
“I think these markets are important.
“I think recruiting will be more selective now with the changes in the rules and Brexit and how that will affect recruiting going forward. I think it’s hard to find established players in the league without paying a sum of money. substantial money for them.
“League One, League Two, Scotland, even going into the Irish leagues where I think there are young players who can still come and play – but it’s a longer process to do that. If we were to build a squad like that we should be more patient, so whatever strategy we use – and i don’t think we have a fixed strategy, it will be a combination of all of these – we have to try to build a team who can compete at the top of the League. “
The next point is what O’Neill called “trading”. It had been a long time since Stoke had to sell to buy. Support from the Coates family meant they could keep players like Ryan Shawcross as the team established themselves big.
But financial fair play can dictate and Stoke might be tempted to listen to the right offers if they think they can use that money to make the squad stronger.
There are players when they would be more willing to go to the negotiating table when it would take big numbers to get them on the phone about players like Bursik, Collins and Souttar.
O’Neill said: “I think what maybe we need to do – and it’s different because we’ve been in the Premier League – is swap a bit to strengthen the squad if that’s necessary. C ‘is something that we will try to do …. Likewise, we have been through a pandemic and it is very difficult to negotiate at the moment.
“Every deal, whether it’s bringing in a player or moving a player to bring in a player, is also designed to make the team stronger. To be honest, I enjoyed the challenge. aspect of the game. “
It’s a good job because it’s going to be a big part of what happens next.