After a busy summer of transfer activity, Stoke City have now overseen another departure in the final days of the European transfer window, after confirming Moritz Bauer’s move to Celtic.
The right-back has joined the Scottish champions on loan for the remainder of the season, and becomes the 11th senior player to leave the Potters over the course of the summer.
Bauer joined Stoke from Russian side Rubin Kazan in January 2018, and it was reported earlier in the transfer window that the Austrian was one of several players who had been told that they were not in the first-team plans of manager Nathan Jones.
So will Stoke miss Bauer during his year-long absence?
Here, we put the spotlight on the defender’s performances last season to find out.
Given Bauer made just eight league appearances for Stoke last season, the Austrian clearly isn’t high up the pecking order at the Bet365 Stadium, and the stats do seem to suggest that may not have been the worst approach for the Potters to take with the defender.
Having averaged just 1.54 clearances per game, it doesn’t really feel as though Bauer is the sort of defender who was really taking charge of situations at Stoke last season, potentially leaving them vulnerable at the back to loose balls in and around their penalty area.
You also feel as though an average of 2.8 interceptions per game is slightly on the low side for a defender, something which could again leave his side exposed to attacks, or the rest of his defensive colleagues over-worked, if they are having to cover the attacks that Bauer has failed to deal with.
It also seems as though the defender struggles somewhat in one on one situations as well.
For a side that has the sort of reputation for being as physical and strong in defence as Stoke do, a defensive duel success rate of little over 60% doesn’t seem all that encouraging with regards to Bauer’s strength in the tackle, and you feel that that too could leave the rest of the defence with more to deal with than they would want.
Combine that with an aerial duel success rate of 69.6%, which seems to like it could be a concern for Stoke in both boxes with regards to arguably one of their biggest strengths of recent years – set pieces – and it does feel as though the Potters have made the right decision in allowing Bauer to move on for the time being.
Despite that, it is interesting to note that one area where Bauer appears to be strong is his passing, with just under 80% of the defender’s passes last season proving successful, something which does imply he may be better on the ball than off it when compared with his other stats in the previous campaign.
That alone, however, does not feel like enough for a defender, and particularly not one playing for a side who are notorious for being as defensively solid as Stoke, meaning the temporary parting of ways may be best for all parties as they look to reset after a difficult year just gone.