Stoke City are reportedly closing in on the signing of Josh Laurent, as the midfielder looks set to leave Reading FC on the back of the 2021/22 campaign.
Mike McGrath of The Telegraph notes how the final parts of Laurent’s move to Stoke will be completed in the coming days.
— Mike McGrath (@mcgrathmike) June 16, 2022
Michael O’Neill is working on something of a tight budget at the bet365 Stadium this summer, yet the capture of Laurent on a free transfer looks a particularly good piece of business.
The 27-year-old is heading into his peak years and heads into the summer on the back of a season that saw him make 41 appearances for a struggling Reading side.
We breakdown his lingering move to Stoke here:
Is it a good potential move?
On the face of things it does look a good move.
Laurent is a free agent this summer and obviously isn’t breaking the bank from a Stoke perspective.
Picking up a Championship-ready midfielder in these circumstances is never a bad thing, allowing whatever cash is available to be pumped into the squad elsewhere.
One of the biggest indicators that this is a good deal for Stoke is the disappointment amongst Reading supporters that Laurent hasn’t been retained.
Quiz: Are these 20 Stoke City transfer facts true or false?
Would he start?
Laurent completed 90 minutes in 39 of his 41 Championship appearances for Reading last season. He was a regular in the midfield for the Royals and, you’d imagine, as he moves onto a new challenge, he’s got the promise of regular game time.
It would be naive to think that Laurent will walk into Stoke’s side and just play every game. In football, and particularly in the Championship, it’s never that straightforward.
However, given the position that Laurent was in at Reading, you’d imagine he’s seeking certain assurances over his playing time at his new club.
What does he offer?
One thing that does standout is how robust Laurent is.
As we’ve touched on already, the 27-year-old basically played every minute (3,643) that he was available for in the Championship last season. That’s a big achievement in such a demanding division and Stoke will be glad of his seemingly consistent availability.
Laurent is also a real asset defensively.
Whoscored.com note how he average 1.8 tackles, as well as 1.4 interceptions and tackles, per 90 last season. His defensive contribution is described by the stats-led website as “very strong”.
It’s also worth noting that Laurent is very good in possession. He looks after the ball well and accrued a pass percentage of 82/4% across his 41 appearances.
There won’t be a sea of goals and goal involvements, but other areas of Laurent’s game outweigh that.
As free transfers go, it looks decent business for Stoke.