After a disappointing bottom-half finish in the Championship in 2021/22, Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill will know that his side simply have to be better next term or it could be his head on the chopping block.
Having a successful summer is a step in the right direction and it would not be a surprise if they look to be proactive and make moves early in the window.
The window opens next month and we’ve highlighted three transfer scenarios that might play out at Stoke early on…
In: Romaine Sawyers
Romaine Sawyers has returned to West Bromwich Albion after his loan spell at Stoke last season and, according to Stoke On Trent Live, the Potters are expected to consider a fresh move for him this summer.
Joe Allen has been linked with the exit door and should he depart, O’Neill may feel it’s worth making an early move for the Albion midfielder to bolster his options in the centre of the park.
Sawyers should be available, too, after the Baggies opted not to activate the extension in his contract meaning he’s set to become a free agent.
In: Ryan Porteous
O’Neill has been watching Scottish top flight games as he prepares for the summer window, which suggests he may be looking at targets north of the border in the upcoming window.
Hibs centre-back Ryan Porteous has been linked with a Championship move in the past, with Millwall and QPR said to be interested at the time, while with Taylor Harwood-Bellis’ loan now done, it would not be a surprise to see them look to sign a replacement.
The 23-year-old may well be a player on Stoke’s radar and if he is then going for him early – to avoid late-window competition and allow him a full pre-season – could be a smart move.
Quiz: Can you name which club Stoke City sold these 23 players to from the last decade?
Out: Benik Afobe
When the Stoke boss spoke of “legacy players on high wages which are hurting us a bit” recently, striker Benik Afobe was undoubtedly one of those he was referring to.
The 29-year-old has made just two appearances for the Potters since the 2018/19 campaign but is earning a wage of £16,731-a-week (as per Capology) and under contract until next summer.
Offloading him early in the window would allow the club to clear space on the wage bill for new recruits to be brought in.
Having impressed at The Den while on loan there last season, Millwall boss Gary Rowett has hinted they would be interested in a new deal for the striker.