Stoke City have been in talks over a potential free transfer move for Ciaran Clark, but discussions over his arrival are stuttering.
Stoke City could do with another option at the heart of defence and ex-Newcastle United and Aston Villa man Clark was in their sights. However, after a few weeks of no reported progress, Alan Nixon stated on his Patreon that talks are faltering over personal terms.
The Potters’ need for another central defender hasn’t waned though, so it could be wise to start considering alternatives. Here are three Stoke City should consider…
Like Clark, Ayala is a centre-back with bags of Championship and Premier League experience currently without a club. He has played 272 times in the second-tier, last featuring for Blackburn Rovers.
The 32-year-old is an experienced presence and could quickly become a leader for Stoke. He has struggled with injuries in recent seasons but as another body at the back, Ayala could prove a shrewd signing for Alex Neil.
If the Potters wanted to venture a little further afield, Almamy Toure could be a smart addition. He’s got experience at a high level following spells with AS Monaco and Eintracht Frankfurt but the 27-year-old Mali international is now without a team.
Toure can play as a centre-back or right-back. That versatility could be valuable for Neil and his pedigree from Ligue 1 and Bundesliga football could make him a quick hit in Staffordshire.
Last but not least, Jack Simpson is another player worth keeping in mind if Stoke City would prefer someone domestically based. He left Cardiff City at the end of August, so he had a pre-season and isn’t too long out of match practice.
That could make him a preferable pick as he shouldn’t need too long to get up to speed. At 26, he can still be a good asset at Championship level and would prove a solid backup option.