Stoke’s veteran holding midfielder Salif Diao looks set to leave the Britannia Stadium after indicating he is unhappy with the way contract negotiations are going with the club. The 32 year old Senegalese international, who scored at the 2002 World Cup, is out of contract this summer, and was quoted in interview as saying, “At the moment I don’t have a serious offer from Stoke so if I get an offer from somewhere else, I might be moving.”
Diao could be shown the door
This comes as something of a surprise, as Stoke manager Tony Pulis is known to be a huge fan of Diao’s, once calling him “the best player of his type in the world”. I expected him to be offered a contract for at least one more season, with Diao himself saying that he believes he has four more good years left in his career. He has been plagued with injuries this season, though still managed twenty Premier League appearances for the Potters, and it is clear that his fitness is not what it once was, so if Pulis is to implement the wholesale changes of playing staff he has hinted at, it’s understandable that Diao is one of the players who will be moving on.
I thought that Diao could do a job as a decent squad player for one more season at least, and ultimately maybe be kept on in a similar role to Dominic Matteo, as a nominal member of the squad, but essentially there as a coach and an experienced influence in the dressing room. Diao also runs a football academy back in Senegal, so if he were to stay at the club in such a role, it would make sense to have his academy linked to the official Stoke academy, but all this seems unlikely now as he is seemingly seeking a more concrete offer elsewhere, with Derby already rumoured to be a likely destination.
Meanwhile, Diao’s international teammate, Henri Camara, will definitely not be returning as a Stoke player next season, after spending the last three months on loan at the club from Wigan. Camara, also 32, made just four substitute appearances for the Potters, and, after stating that he moved to the Britannia Stadium for first team football, it is clear that neither he, nor the club are satisfied with his spell in the Potteries, so it is no surprise that Pulis will not be stepping up his interest to sign him on a permanent basis over the summer.
The situation is rather different regarding Birmingham’s Irish international full-back Stephen Kelly though. The 25 year old also joined Stoke on loan in February, and despite being behind Andy Wilkinson in the pecking order for his preferred right-back spot, he seems to have impressed the hierarchy of the club, and a permanent deal could be on the cards this summer, with a likely fee being around £1.5 million for the former Tottenham man.
Camara will leave Stoke, but Kelly’s future could still lie with the club
In both cases, I am indifferent to the news. While neither player has impressed hugely during their time with Stoke, I believe both could be decent squad players, if they were prepared to accept that they would probably spend a lot of time on the bench. If we are to sign Kelly, I would be very unhappy if he is to replace Wilkinson as our first choice right back, as he has been a revelation since regaining his place in the side last December.
This summer promises to be a lively one for Stoke as we look to bring in the players who will help us cement our status as a Premier League side. This news looks to be just the beginning of an enthralling three months in the transfer market for Pulis and Stoke.
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