Having finished ninth in each of the last three seasons – all of which represent their best result since 1975 – Stoke are looking to kick on this term and go even higher. The arrival of Joe Allen from Liverpool could go a long way to achieving that aim, and takes our Premier League Signing of the Week award.
The midfielder – or the Welsh Pirlo – as he’s popularly known by fans, starred for his country at this summer’s European Championships, but with first team football far from a guarantee under Jurgen Klopp, Allen’s Anfield future was uncertain.
A return to Swansea was heavily touted, but Stoke won the race for the 26-year-old in a £13m deal on Monday.
The relative proximity of Stoke to Liverpool compared to the Liberty Stadium may have played a factor in Allen’s decision, but there’s plenty of reasons over the last year or two to suggest Mark Hughes is planning big things for the Potters.
Signing players such as Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan and Marko Arnautovic has seen Stoke leave their long-ball, set-piece days under Tony Pulis far behind them, as they bid to upset the established order at sharp end of the table.
Allen’s arrival was one of Stoke’s first this summer – with exciting talent Ramadan Sobhi from Al Ahly in Egypt also joining this week – with Hughes seemingly pretty content with his lot in Staffordshire.
There’s further logic to Hughes landing Allen, much more than merely signing a talented player who happened to be available.
Vice-captain Glenn Whelan played 37 times for the Potters in the Premier League last term, but the Ireland international turns 33 this season, while Charlie Adam turns 31.
So it makes plenty of sense for Hughes to bring in a well-regarded midfielder who is approaching his peak years.
Handed the number four shirt, Allen is set to play a major role as Stoke look to secure their best ever Premier League result.
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