In the early hours of Friday morning the reports of Stoke City agreeing a deal for Sadio Berahino began to trickle through, and later that evening he became a Stoke player. It is a signing that has brought more relief than excitement to the people of North Staffordshire, as this is one of the longest transfer sagas the club has experienced. This does not mean, however, that there isn’t an overwhelming sense of anticipation for his debut next month.
None will be looking forward to linking up with Stoke’s new number nine more than Xherdan Shaqiri, the Swiss international has created the most chances of anyone in the Premier League without registering an assist (27). The Potters have needed a striker of Berahino’s mould for some time now, having cycled through several others who have not managed to click with the squad’s creative department and it will be a relief to all if the long-term Berahino target fulfils the promise he has shown.
Having finally found the missing part of the side it would be verging on idiotic to create another one. Yet the current transfer rumours circulating around the club are suggesting Stoke are at risk of doing exactly that, with it being reported that the Catalonian duo of Bojan Krkic and Marc Muniesa are likely to leave the club.
Both have struggled for game time in the past year so it is understandable that they are wanting more game time. It is reported that Celtic and Middlesbrough are sniffing around Bojan, whilst Muniesa is being linked with a move back to Spain with either Deportivo or Real Betis.
To lose either of these players would leave the Potters very short in key areas. Muniesa is the first-choice replacement for both left-back and centre-half, and is the only player other than the current first team players who is natural in these positions. Should Bojan leave, Stoke would be left with Ibrahim Afellay who has been constantly plagued by injury throughout his career, and Joe Allen, who despite early form has struggled in the role, as their only ‘number tens’.
The cost of replacing these players would be vastly higher than the fees both are expected to leave for, and it would waste valuable time and resources that would be better spent lining up targets for the summer. The risk of selling them without replacement is apparent to every Stoke fan, as all are aware of the injuries problems that plagued the side at the end of last season.
Stoke have made a huge success in finally bringing in their prime target, Berahino, but all that good work could easily be undermined if they sell two essential squad players. Should the Potters go into their 1 February clash with Everton, the day after the transfer deadline, with no change to the squad as it is now, then the window must be considered an overwhelming success.