Stoke City fans were dealt a real blow this past week when it was confirmed that their prized asset Nathan Collins had been sold to Premier League outfit Burnley.
A long transfer chase from the Clarets finally paid off after they had bids rejected in the January transfer window, but backed by new chairman Alan Pace, Sean Dyche finally got his man for £12 million.
It’s a real rebuilding summer for the Potters, who are looking to clear the decks of the big wages of the likes of Sam Clucas, Joe Allen and others, with Michael O’Neill having a tendency to promote youth through into the senior squad.
Collins was one of the gems that has come through Stoke’s academy, having arrived from Ireland as a 14-year-old and his performances at the back alongside fellow young star Harry Souttar, or occasionally at right-back, attracted attention from big clubs.
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It is Burnley that have won the race for his signature though, however Collins couldn’t say goodbye without sending a message to the club and its supporters, which he shared on Instagram.
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Despite only playing in 47 games in all competitions for Stoke, Collins was highly-rated by all at the bet365 Stadium and he will be a big loss to the back-line next season.
However that £12 million could go a long way if it is to be re-invested into the playing squad, but with Stoke attempting to slash the wage bill dramatically in an attempt to stabilise the finances there’s also a chance it could just go straight into the bank.
Thankfully for O’Neill he does have solid options already at centre-back and he’s been boosted with the arrival of Ben Wilmot from Watford, who is a really good replacement for Collins and is a player who could make the club profit down the line should he develop further.
But it’s still sad for a fans to see a home-grown player depart and it’s an emotional exit for Collins as well having been at Stoke for over five years.