BREAKING NEWS : Stoke City’s head coach has reveal January transfer recruitment ambition

Stoke City’s recruitment ambitions are examined in the final days of the January transfer window.
The deadline is a week away, and Stoke City, with three additions under their belt, is left with due diligence and issues.

Steven Schumacher can claim to performance improvements, but he has also mentioned traits he would like to add to the squad he took over in December. Stoke have been able to defend themselves against Financial Fair Play, having had to sell to avoid penalties at this point last year, but they are still constrained by its restrictions, and possible long-term acquisitions cost more in January windows.

If Jordan Thompson’s reconfiguration as a left-back has helped to alleviate the urgency of filling gaps, some departments remain more concerned than others. The basic line is that Stoke haven’t scored enough goals this season, and despite having the Championship’s sixth best defensive record, they’ve had a horrible tendency of making mistakes that have turned victories into draws and draws into losses.

Club Statement: Steven Schumacher | Plymouth Argyle - PAFC

As Schumacher works behind the scenes with technical director Ricky Martin and head of recruitment Jared Dublin, he has time to consider what Stoke want, what they need, and what they may receive.

Move now or in the summer?
It’s a delicate question. Should Stoke hold their nerve to get better value or a better player in the summer or will bringing in a new signing now make a significant difference. That could be staying away from a relegation fight or a surge towards the right end of the table or just helping the mood stay lifted.

Barring an injury crisis, the likes of which have been known at Clayton Wood in the recent past to be fair, there are decent numbers in most departments. It’s left-back and on the wing again which are lacking out-and-out players, although Schumacher has spoken about his trust in Thompson for the former. There will be arguments about whether Stoke have enough quality in other areas but they’re not short on quantity.

So it appears that if Stoke make a move, it will be for a player who can make an instant effect and increase the starting XI’s standard. That was the concept behind Luke Cundle’s arrival in a busy central midfield department, with the intention of putting the head coach’s stamp on Stoke’s style of play: fast, one and two-touch, front-footed game.

At the same time, if Stoke can stay out of the relegation zone while failing to threaten the top, it could be the ideal time to see more of Nathan Lowe, Emre Tezgel, and Sol Sidibe. Staying clear from bed blockers must be a major element of Stoke’s due diligence this month.

Can Stoke find enough goals?
Schumacher will want more goals from all areas as Stoke develop on his watch but he will still probably need to hang his hat on at least one forward who is going to be good value for 15 goals in a season.

If that is going to be Ryan Mmaee, Andre Vidigal, Sead Haksabanovic or Tyrese Campbell, they will have to show they can score five, six or seven in the remaining 18 games. Is their faith or expectation they can do that? It was no surprise in a non-scientific poll on social media yesterday that about 60 per cent of Stoke fans were saying a centre-forward should be top priority.

Bae Junho isn’t a natural finisher yet but is such a lovely footballer that Stoke have to back themselves hard to add assists and goals to his game. Lowe is hungry too and Tezgel will surely knock on the door soon enough. Nikola Jojic has to stake his claim as well.

Links have not exactly been coming thick and fast in the last few weeks and Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire, who played for the United States at the weekend, is a rare mentioned forward.

“We’ve got targets in mind and we’ve had conversations with certain people but it’s hard in January, it’s not an easy window to try to bring people into the club,” said Schumacher. “We’ll see what we can do and if we can bring someone in that strengthens the squad, then great.”

Can Stoke stop making mistakes?
Stoke, as mentioned, have the eighth best defensive record in the Championship in terms of goals conceded – and there has been a lot of pressure on the defence because of the lack of goals. Mistakes, however, have defined games and it can be frustrating that if Ki-Jana Hoever and Luke McNally are in development, they are developing for their parent club.

Ben Wilmot is back to provide more competition at centre-back but Ciaran Clark has not been spotted yet under Schumacher.

Stoke are expected to continue playing with a high line, and it will be tough to find a centre-back who is faster than Michael Rose or McNally. Gerry Taggart, even at 31, may not be the best match for this club, but he may be worth adjusting the system.

That being said, Stoke cannot rely solely on clean sheets to win games. They have only won four league games this season after conceding a goal.

Is it time to say goodbye?
There is no one screaming that this is the time to cash in, as there was in January with Harry Souttar and, to some extent, Joe Bursik, or possibly in the summer with Josh Tymon and Jacob Brown. There are clearly indications that Junho and Wouter Burger are promising investments.

Instead, seek for players who may be low on playing time due to the manager change. Clark, Dwight Gayle, Wesley, and Stevens are among the older players whose contracts expire this summer. Stevens could still be first choice if he is fit, but there will be no protestations if the others have other options.

Daniel Johnson and Ben Pearson have fallen down the pecking order in recent weeks, but they remain signed until 2025 and 2027, respectively. They both appear to be enjoying themselves in training, but they still need to work hard to reclaim their starting positions. Lewis Baker has gone the other way, demonstrating that the door is open for everyone who can go through it.

There will be new additions, whether this month or in the summer, but Stoke cannot add players to players as they have in the past.

There may be loans for younger players. Tommy Simkin has already joined Forest Green Rovers. Lowe, Liam McCarron, D’Margio Wright-Phillips, and Blondy Nna Noukeu are all candidates to get experience in the lower levels. For one couple, it would be a chance to be in the shop window, while for others, it would be an opportunity to show Schumacher what they could do.

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