Â On May the 4th 2008, stoke City ended a 23 absence from top-flight football, sealing promotion to the Premier League following a goalless home draw against Leicester, which sealed the Potters’ promotion as runners up, and condemmed Leicester to a 22nd placed finish, and thus relegation to League One. On that day, I am sure I am not the only one of the more than 15,000 Stokies who flooded the pitch at the final whistle who entertained the happy thought of all the high quality players who would doubtless be joining us in the weeks to come, now that promotion was secured.
Â So, it was with hope that I looked to the summer, as a time to strengthen the squad and add the missing links capable of making the Stoke side one capable of holding its own in the top-flight. The early signs looked promising, it became known that Shola Ameobi’s reported 4million move from Newcastle would not be completed, following a less than impressive loan spell at Stoke in the final two months of the season, knews that drew few tears from Stoke fans.
Â Aside from the spared nerves and fingernails, avoiding the playoffs and securing promotion automatically seemed a big positive on the transfer front, buying us a two week head-start over the team who eventually triumped in the playoffs. That team was to be Hull City and it is with regret that I note while Stoke are yet to make a signing this summer, Hull yesterday tied up their fourth, fifth and sixth deals. However this regret is little and short lived. Looking at the list of the six players Hull have signed I consider how effective they would be in the Stoke team, and come to the conclusion that few would make an impact and those who I see as half-decent signings, namely George Boateng and Geovanni are little if at all better than many of the current Stoke players.
Â In this two-week period before the playoffs were completed, several exciting players were linked with Stoke. Sunderland goalkeeper Marton Fulop, his teammates Dean Whitehead and former Stoke captain Danny Higginbotham, Senegalese midfielder Guirane N’Daw,Â West Brom striker Kevin Phillips,Â and following the relegations of Reading and Birmingham, James Harper and Fabrice Muamba respectively. Two months later the trail has gone cold on many of these players and several have completed moves to other clubs, while rumours remain regarding Higginbotham and Harper and a move for Fulop looks very much on the cards, despite an initial 1.7 million bid being rejected.
Â Three days ago we were greeted with the news that Stoke had had a bid of around 4 million pounds accepted for twice-capped Liverpool and England goalkeeper Scott Carson.Â Although to be linked with a player of this calibre seemed a step in the right direction, I was unsure that the Â£4 million could not be better spent elsewhere, with the forward, midfield and full back positions needing obvious strengthening. It was, therefore a with a mixture of disappointment and relief that I received the news today that Stoke have pulled out of discussions with Carson and it seems will be looking elsewhere for a goalkeeper, strengthening rumours regarding Marton Fulop, whose arrival, according to some reports is imminent and to a lesser extent former loanee Carlo Nash.
Â It was also announced on monday that the club have completed a deal for Jamaican midfield player and long time target Rudolph Austin for a fee of around Â£ 1 million. I feel that Austin, who has been described as ”the best Carribbean talent since Carlos Edwards and Kenwyne Jones”, would be a welcome addidition to a squad, not least so we can stop worrying why we have not signed anyone yet. The persistence shown byÂ the club in arranging this deal is commendable and also shows how highlyÂ Pulis and co must rate him. HopefullyÂ a work permit will be granted andÂ he will turn into an important player for us in seasons to come.
Â Â Another player recently linked has been Reading striker Dave Kitson, who scored ten times in the Premier League last season. According to some reports a Â£4 million fee has been agreed between the two clubs and a deal may be completed, possibly alongside Fulop in time for the friendly at Newcastle Town tomorrow. Â Kitson would provide an excellent foil for Ricardo Fuller in attack and is sure to chip in with his fair share of goals. I hope this deal can be completed as soon as possible, as Kitson is a player I rate highly, and would surerly improve the team. I hope in 24 hours the situation is clearer and a satisfying conclusion can be reached.
Â The Kitson link is just one of a number of positive points in an as yet disappointing summer in the transfer market, and it is with hope and faith to Pulis’ ability to bring quality players to Stoke that I will continue to monitor all sources of transfer information with a keen interest.
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