For Stoke City, the centre of defence was always going to be a priority position to strengthen during the January transfer window.
Having lost Harry Souttar to a season ending injury picked up on international duty with Australia back in November, and with Leo Ostigard recalled from his loan spell by parent club Brighton early in the month, centre back was clearly an area for the Potters to target in the market.
That is something that Stoke have now done, after announcing the signing of Taylor Harwood-Bellis on loan from Premier League champions elect Manchester City until the end of the season.
With that deal to bring Harwood-Bellis to the club for the rest of the season, it is hard not to feel as though Stoke have completed an excellent piece of business.
Not only does Harwood-Bellis possess top-flight pedigree from his time rising through the youth ranks at The Etihad, as well as a loan spell with Anderlecht in Belgium earlier this season, but past experience means he should also be easily capable of doing a job in the Championship for Michael O’Neill’s side.
During the second-half of the 2020/21 campaign, Harwood-Bellis found himself on loan with Stoke’s Championship rivals Blackburn Rovers.
Throughout that spell at Ewood Park, the centre back enjoyed a string of excellent performances, during which time he seemingly improved with every outing, proving his clear ability to provide a reliable shield for his side in repelling opposition attacks.
It is also worth noting that while playing for Tony Mowbray’s outfit, Harwood-Bellis found himself playing in a number of different positions across the back line, and in more than one defensive system.
As a result, those of a Stoke persuasion should be confident that the 19-year-old will be able to fit into the back three system often used by O’Neill this season.
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Beyond that, if this deal proves a successful one, it could lead to even more opportunities for Stoke in the future.
If Manchester City are to see Harwood-Bellis thrive and improve during his stint with the Potters, it could give them the confidence to loan some of their other prospects to the Championship side further down the line.
Given Stoke have previously been linked with some of those young prospects from the blue side of Manchester – such as striker Liam Delap – could make this a profitable move for the Potters from a long-term perspective.
It seems therefore, that from the disappointment of those recent defensive setbacks, Stoke may have been able to complete a very useful piece of transfer business.