This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
The future of Benik Afobe at Stoke City is likely to be a hot topic of debate at the Bet365 Stadium this summer.
The 28-year-old has had a tough few years with injuries and has found it hard to maintain a consistent starting berth at the Potters, which has seen him be moved out on loan several times.
Afobe currently finds himself out in Turkey with Trabzonspor on loan from Stoke, and he’s enjoyed some much-needed game time, scoring four goals in 26 appearances for the Super Lig outfit.
Naturally though, with the summer fast approaching and players’ contracts to be sorted, Afobe’s current deal at Stoke will need to be assessed by Michael O’Neill and co as his contract expires in June.
So, what should Stoke do here? Offer Afobe another opportunity to shine or look to move him on?
The team here at FLW discuss….
Afobe is still very much a player that the Potters could use next season in the Championship with him being able to provide an added goal threat in the final third which could be vital for them next term if they are going to get into the top six.
The forward is also someone who could link up well with the likes of Steven Fletcher upfront and also could get some joy comibing with Nick Powell’s quality on the ball. It seems like an option that should at the very least be explored by Michael O’Neill in pre-season.
However, it will all come down to whether the Potters can sustain his wages and also bring in the players they need in other positions in the side. Although bringing them back would save them having to invest in another forward.
Afobe might have been somewhat written off by many in terms of his Stoke career. That means that he will need to prove some people wrong which could well be an added motivation for him. Personally I would have him in the squad for at least the first few weeks of the campaign to see what he can bring to the table.
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Ideally, they would want to move him on but that may not be possible, so he could be worth persevering with.
Afobe’s career has stalled in recent years, with awful personal circumstances and injuries meaning he hasn’t had a good run in a team for some time. Moving to Turkey this season was an interesting move, but he just hasn’t played often enough. With all that in mind, you can’t realistically see anyone taking him on in the summer, or certainly not unless Stoke subsidise a lot of his wages.
Therefore, they should give him another chance.
Afobe is still only 28 and at his best, which was probably when he was at Wolves, he was a pretty complete Championship striker. He could link play, had the mobility and pace to get in behind, and he was a cool finisher.
O’Neill needs to back himself to get the forward back to that level. Stoke won’t have a massive budget in the summer and they just don’t score enough goals, so trusting Afobe and giving him a chance to shine could be a smart move.
I think it’s probably for the best if Afobe finds himself a new permanent home – but it may be easier said than done.
Afobe will be sitting on a pretty decent wage and with one year left on his deal going into the summer, an agreement might have to be made between the player and the Potters to let him free.
Because he’s spent the season at Trabzonspor, Afobe has opened himself up to a new market and he may interest other Turkish teams, despite scoring just four times in the Super Lig this season.
However you’d imagine as he has a young family he’d want to come back to England and remain there, so if I was Stoke I could come to a settlement with Afobe and let him move on to another club in the Championship because I don’t think he gets back into that squad.