Stoke City could reignite their interest in former loanee and Welsh international Rabbi Matondo, according to Football Insider.
The 20-year-old spent the latter stages of the 2020/21 season in Staffordshire and after making a good impression, the Potters are pursuing his signature once again in time for pre-season and the upcoming campaign.
Matondo, who started his career at Cardiff City and Manchester City before moving to Germany in 2019 and following a similar path to Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, could be tempted by another move back to the United Kingdom to join Michael O’Neill once again.
Here, we take a look at two pros and two cons to this particular transfer for the Potters….
Pro: Matondo has a point to prove
With Schalke’s shock relegation to the second tier of German football, Matondo is in a very unique situation.
If the German side stay down after the 2021/22 campaign, the winger may want to push for a move, especially if his potential second spell in Stoke-on-Trent is a roaring success.
The Championship will be a great place for the 20-year-old to showcase his talent on a big platform, but that will only happen if the move goes through.
And after such a disappointing start of his first spell with injury problems, he will be desperate to hit the ground running and ensure he stays in the starting line-up for long periods of the season, especially with Stoke fans possibly back at the bet365 next season.
All this means one thing: he has a major point to prove and will want to vastly improve Stoke’s 14th place finish from last season. This can only be a good thing for the Potters who have dreams of reaching the Premier League again.
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Pro: Already familiar with the club
Current boss Michael O’Neill was there for the entirety of Matondo’s spell at the back end of last season and with the pair knowing each other well, the Northern Irishman should be able to get the very best out of the winger.
Matondo is also familiar with the location and should settle back in seamlessly, linking up with many team mates he also had last season.
In Covid times with disruption still ongoing, the mental wellbeing of players moving country to join a new club is paramount – and this can only help to enhance the 20-year-old’s performances.
Con: What if injuries come back?
Even if O’Neill wants to re-sign Matondo on a temporary basis again, it’s unlikely Schalke (now in the second tier) will want to carry the burden of his wages as they look to get back to the Bundesliga at the first time of asking.
That means both a permanent and a temporary signing won’t be risk free for Stoke, especially with the winger spending his first few months at the club suffering with injuries.
There are also questions over how much the manager would use him, with O’Neill stating in April the loan hadn’t gone “as well as he’d hoped or we’d hoped”.
However, Matondo’s end of season form may tempt the manager to take a chance on him.
Con: Potters might not be able to afford him permanently if he does well
The club’s situation at the end of the next campaign will depend on whether they will be able to fork out the fee needed to lure Matondo back to England permanently, although this will be an after thought for O’Neill and the board at this time.
Right now, Stoke may want to secure another loan deal to get a full season out of the winger, before then deciding whether they should attempt to sign him on a permanent basis.
With the Welsh player contracted to recently relegated Schalke until 2023, the Championship club won’t even be able to approach him for a potential pre-contract agreement next year, although his price may be reduced next season with just 12 months left on his deal at that point, regardless of whether there’s a bidding war or not.
However, if Matondo can guide Michael O’Neill’s side to a remarkable promotion, they will have the funds to fork out on a permanent deal for him if they wish to do so.
Schalke’s league position at the time may also depend on the price tag.