Thursday, September 28, 2023

Stoke City Linked With Borussia Dortmund Prospect – Are They Targeting Too Many Youngsters?

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Arka Tarun Mukherjee
Arsenal fan and football expert, Arka Tarun Mukherjee actually used to play cricket at semi pro level. An ardent student of football tactics, ATM is very passionate about the tactical aspects of the game and has a dream of being a football manager in the future.

Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has reportedly targeted Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Christian Pulisic to be the next transfer in at the Bet365 stadium. Pulisic joined Dortmund last year in search of more exposure and has made 12 appearances in his debut season with Thomas Tuchel’s side scoring two goals and impressing whenever he was given a chance.

The 17-year-old can play as an attacking midfielder as well as a winger and he worked perfectly well with the likes of Aubameyang, Reus, Mkhitaryan and Kagawa. However, Dortmund have brought in the likes of Schurrle, Götze and Dembele this summer, players who would be ahead of the teenager in the pecking order which translates to fewer chances to be on the field. With Stoke City interested, the USA international has a great chance now to experience football in England.

The Potters, have bought an exciting young left winger in Ramadan Sobhi from Egyptian club Al Ahly in the summer and a young centre-back in Ryan Sweeney from AFC Wimbledon. Both the players are 19 at the moment, Pulisic, would be the third teenager to come to the club in the summer which gives an indication of the long-term planning undertaken at the club.

While it is always positive to give more exposure to the young players and let them develop so that they can reach their desired level, having too many youngsters in the squad can have its implications as well. The Stoke squad does have some leaders at the back, their captain is their biggest example of leadership. The attacking half meanwhile has players in Bojan, Shaqiri and Arnautovic, players not particularly known for their sporting attitude. They have a lot of flair but are not adept at being inspirational, someone who lifts the spirits of the team during the crunch moments.

Mark Hughes has always been admired for being a great motivator and man-manager. He has dealt successfully with a few fiery volatile characters during his time in management. He has so far done a remarkable job at his current club changing the outlook of the players as well as the preconceived notion of how Stoke City plays football. It’s no longer a club following a long ball routine towards the tall striker while the towering defenders aim towards injuring opposition forwards with their every tackle. There’s a lot of finesse now in their gameplay.

The arrival of Bojan, Shaqiri and Imbula has shown that the new project is well capable of attracting players who are known for their skillful passing football. The manager now wants to make the transition into the brand of football he has preferred all along while still being pragmatic and realistic in imparting the defensive solidity required. Targeting the young players shows the long-term vision of the club and its ambition regarding the brand of football the manager aims to play. While it is a very exciting proposition for the fans, the management must also be careful to maintain the balance in the mix and having the required experience and character needed to get through another tough season in the Premier League so that they can make some progress on the solid bases of last year.

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