Stoke City manager Nathan Jones has big plans this summer as he looks to over-haul his squad and prepare a side capable of a top-six finish in the Championship next season.
One target firmly in Jones’ sights is Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle, who is fresh from a successful campaign on-loan at West Brom last season, where he scored 24 goals and two assists in 40 appearances, as reported in the print edition of The Sun (June 19, Page 50).
But if Stoke signed Gayle, would he be a guaranteed starter next season?
“He would surely have to be.
“Goals were a major problem for Stoke last season, with only the bottom two sides – Ipswich and Bolton – finding the net on fewer occasions than the Potters.
“By contrast Gayle was in his usual prolific form at this level on loan at West Brom, and having gone agonisingly close to firing them back to the Premier League, Stoke will surely want the chance to have him go one better with them next season.
“Given the reported valuation of Gayle by current club Newcastle, it would also seem a huge waste of money for Stoke to sign him and then keep him sat on the sidelines.”
“I think they’d have to start him. Can Stoke really afford to sign a player of Gayle’s quality and not start him?
“I think he’d be a fantastic signing for the Potters. Gayle is a very good striker and has always been able to score goals in the Championship.
“Stoke will be hoping to challenge for promotion next season and Gayle’s experience of winning the league with Newcastle and reaching the play-offs with West Brom last season could be vital.
“When you look at the other strikers that Stoke have, I don’t think any of them are as good as Gayle. I’d expect him to start ahead of the likes of Sam Vokes.
“Gayle probably won’t move to Stoke unless he is assured that he will be a regular starter anyway, so I’d definitely expect him to play an important role if he does move there.”
“He simply has to start for Nathan Jones’ side next season.
“Gayle was hugely impressive for West Brom on loan last season, and he’ll surely be frustrated that he didn’t win promotion with the Baggies.
“He’s a proven goalscorer in the Championship though, and netted 24 goals for West Brom last season, and would be a real coup for the Potters.
“They’ve been crying out for a proven goalscorer in the Championship, and Gayle would fit that description perfectly.
“Competition for places will be fierce up-front for Stoke next season, with Sam Vokes and Benik Afobe already at the club.
“But I think Gayle’s goalscoring record speaks for itself, and Jones would be making a ludicrous decision if he was to sign Gayle and not start him next season.”