The defeat to Crystal Palace this weekend sealed Stoke City’s relegation to the Championship. As their main star, Xherdan Shaqiri, has expressed his disappointment with the squad over the season, other players might feel the same and look out for the opportunity of playing elsewhere.
Stoke spent a lot of money in recent years and have players who would fit perfectly in other top-tier clubs. Starting with Shaqiri and Jack Butland, the Potters are set to lose at least six players on their way down.
Stoke City’s Relegation to Trigger Multiple Departures
Butland to Liverpool and Six Others Heading for the Door
Jack Butland, one of the best goalkeepers in the league, has been linked to a move to Anfield. The prospect of being trained by Jürgen Klopp and playing in the Champions League might be enough to convince the Englishman to join the Reds.
Another player who would enjoy playing European football once again is Shaqiri. The Swiss winger might also end up in Liverpool, as Everton are planning on exercising his £12 million release clause.
Kevin Wimmer, Bruno Martins Indi, Joe Allen, Saido Berahino and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting might all follow Butland and Shaqiri on their way out of the Bet365 Stadium.
Wimmer and Choupo-Moting are both new-comers but could easily find space in other Premier League squads. The loss of broadcast revenue would make these sales even more profitable.
Allen Could Return to Wales
Joe Allen was, alongside Butland and Shaqiri, one of Stoke’s best performers this season. A potential return to his boyhood club, Swansea, was rumoured. However, with the Swans on the brink of relegation themselves after Huddersfield’s draw at Stamford Bridge, it seems unlikely.
While there was no inquiry from other clubs regarding Martins Indi and Berahino, it would be reasonable for them to try and stay in the Premier League.
Not as Bad as It Sounds
Despite the departure of their major players, Stoke have everything to perform well in the Championship. As they cash in with these sales, the board and Paul Lambert will be able to afford some new signings that have the experience of making the jump from the Championship to the Premier League.
Combining new-comers with experienced players might be more constructive than the talent of one good player.
The Championship is far longer and physically demanding than the Premier League and that’s one of Stoke’s best assets. The club has always been known for its strong and hardworking playing style.
Lambert’s Major Endeavour
Paul Lambert needs to focus on building a large squad with multiple options in each position. The likes of Peter Crouch and Darren Fletcher will give him the experience he needs to forge a competitive team.
Just like Newcastle did when they were relegated in 2016, selling the big names and building a broad squad is key to re-establish the financial balance and develop an efficient playing style.
Therefore, the departure of Stoke’s most valuable players might be a necessary evil for the club to succeed in the Championship.