Stoke City boss Alex Neil has given an update to The Stoke Sentinel on his side’s plans to sit down with several first-team players both on loan or nearing the end of their current contracts to discuss their futures at the Bet365 Stadium.
Across the campaign, the Potters brought in 11 players on loan, four of which returned to their parent clubs in January, and seven playing until the end of the season. With seven players at the club on loan currently, The Stoke Sentinel report that Neil met with each of them on Saturday to discuss what their plans are going forwards.
Dujon Sterling, Matija Sarkic, Bersant Celina, Ki-Jana Hoever, Ben Pearson, Axel Tuanzebe and Will Smallbone will all have decisions to make on whether they will look to stake their claim at their parent clubs, return to Stoke City on loan or on a permanent deal, or whether they want to secure a move elsewhere.
With the season now over, attention will also now turn to the six Stoke City players who are out of contract next month, with the future’s of Jack Bonham, Sam Clucas, Frank Fielding, Morgan Fox, Phil Jagielka and Nick Powell all in the balance.
“I’ve got meetings over the next couple of days and we know what the outcome is going to look like,” Neil told The Stoke Sentinel.
“Loan players we are not in control of because ultimately they are not our players. We spoke to the loan players on Saturday just in terms of what our hopes and aspirations are for them and with the other lads we will speak to them on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The difficulty we’ve got is that there are some players we would want as a matter of urgency but that urgency needs to be shared with the opposite club. If they’ve got the same urgency then it can be difficult to get anything done quickly.
“We just need to be patient. We’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of work has gone on the background already. It’s a big, big summer for us.”
‘A big, big, summer’ indeed…
Neil’s comment that this will be a huge window is certainly accurate. Stoke City played well across the season but were left wanting in terms of results. So with the right recruitment in the coming months, they could make a charge on the division’s top six in the 2023/24 campaign rather easily.
Loanees Tuanzebe and Sterling are out of contract at their parent clubs Manchester United and Chelsea and so there could be the possibility of two free signings should they wish to pursue them. But as Neil says, it does depend on the player and their current sides’ stances too.
The Potters utilised the loan market extremely well and so will be looking to do so again next time out. But those out of contract signing new deals will be equally if not more important. Whatever happens, it promises to be a busy summer for all those involved at Stoke City.