With the departure of Wilfried Bony a distnct possibility, we look at seven options for Mark Hughes to turn to in January…
#1 Daniel Sturridge
The best option on this list by an absolute country mile. Sturridge has been frustrated since Jurgen Klopp’s arrivial in Merseyside, and should he decide he wants first team football in January, Stoke could be a real option for the England international. There is an arguement that Sturridge isn’t good enough to get in any of the top six/seven in England, and that leaves Stoke, Southampton, West Ham and possibly Leicester to battle it out for the front man. The only snag in this deal is that A) Liverpool may be relucatant to sell Sturridge in January with Sadio Mane away on AFCON duty, or B) If he’s used as a makeweight in any deal involving Southampton for their talismanic defender, Virgil van Dijk. Sturridge would cost in excess of £28m, and would be a HUGE signing for The Potters.
#2 Saido Berahino
*Sigh* Here we ago… Having now spent two whole windows constantly linked to the West Bromich Albion forward, Hughes may feel that the fact that Berahino’s in exile at West Brom, and the fact that he’s out of contract in the summer may make for a cut-price deal in January. West Brom previously rejcted several bids from Stoke in the summer for Berahino in the excess of £20-25m, but it’s reported that any deal for Saido in January would be within the £7-10m region. The only problem with any deal is that Berahino hasn’t featured for West Brom since the start of the season, and with a lack of Premier League football under his belt, that could cause Hughes to maybe think twice about placing a gamble on the Englishman.
#3 Eric Maxim Chupo-Moting
This was a surprisng rumour to say the least, but one that could be a very smart for Stoke in January. Much like the aforementioned Berahino, Chupo-Moting is out of contract in the summer, and could sign a pre-contractual agreement with The Potters which could see him move for free in the summer, however, it’s reported that a fee of around £7m would secure the Cameroonian in January. Chupo-Moting stands at 6ft 3in, and can play either off the left hand side, or as a central striker, and has contributed to five of Schalke’s 15 Bundesliga goals this season.
#4 Fedor Smolov
Another strange rumour, but yet another option Stoke City are reported to be interested in is Russia striker Fedor Smolov. Currently plying his trade at FC Krasnodar in Russia, Smolov currently leads the top-scoring charts in the league with an impressive 10 goals from 11 games. At only 26-years-old, Smolov would only cost The Potters around £11m, and with his goal-scoring return this season, Hughes may feel this could be a very shrewd piece of business if he’s able to pull this one off.
#5 Michy Batshuayi
Having tried, and failed to land the Belgian last January, I, and many other Stoke fans were disappointed to see the Belgian seemingly opt for second place when he joined Chelsea in the summer, knowing he’d play second fiddle to Diego Costa. Batshuayi has currently warmed the bench for the majority of the Premier League campaign thus far, and with his recent comments about his lack of playing time frustating him, a possible loan move for the forward could be in the offing for Stoke. The only problem with this deal is that the lack of backup Chelsea have for Diego Costa may force Antonio Conte to feel that Batshuayi is necessary for Chelsea and their title push.
#6 Sandro Ramirez
Currently playing at Malaga following his move from FC Barcelona last summer, Sandro Ramirez has an impressive return rate of six goals in 12 league games so far this campaign. This rumour sprung to life over the weekend, when The Sun reported that Stoke City had actively sent out scouts to Spain specifically to watch Sandro, with the intention of buying the 21-year-old in January. Stoke have a notorious reputation for buying ex-Barcelona players, and with Bojan, Afellay, Muniesa and Moha currently at the bet365 Stadium, Sandro Ramirez would fit right into the group, should he move to Stoke-on-Trent.
# 7 Manolo Gabbiadini
Another player who Stoke have been linked with in previous windows, Gabbiadini is a wanted man across Europe, according to Sky Italia, as they report that both Stoke and West Ham are interested, as well as Schalke, Wolfsburg, Marseille and Lyon are all chasing the Italian forward. Gabbidini has netted just twice in 16 appearances so far this season, and perhaps a change of scenery is needed to kick-start his career. The 25-year-old would cost around £9-15m if reports are to be believed.