Monday, August 15, 2022

Why Stoke City Should Look To Sign This French Striker Instead Of Van Persie

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Sourav Bhakat
An ardent sports lover who loves to sleep, eat and watch Manchester City play. In that order.

Stoke City have been linked with France international Andre-Pierre Gignac after reports emerged that the striker wants a move back to Europe this season. The former Marseille striker had made the surprising move to Mexico where he currently plays for Tigres UANL.

The Potters have been undergoing a gradual transformation ever since Tony Pulis was sacked as manager. With the appointment of Hughes and their subsequent release of a certain brand of footballers and the signing of a particular set of players pointed to their attempts at a radical change in their playing style. The focus was to implement a brand of constructive football aligned with the tough nature of Stoke’s play which had led to teams fearing a cold rainy night at the Bet365 stadium.

Creative players like Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic and the likes were signed up. With the defence focusing mainly on a gung-ho approach with balls hoofed up the field regularly, players who were comfortable with the ball at their feet were brought to the club. Though, Hughes has been partially successful in transforming their play to a more aesthetic nature, the lack of a quality striker has hampered their progress to an extent. With Shaqiri putting in sparkling displays initially before fading away as the season went on, the goal scoring responsibilities fell mainly on Austrian winger Marco Arnautovic, who was their stand-out performer towards the end.

With Diouf being inconsistent and Peter Crouch, no longer being the imposing striker he was, their attack has looked shorn of variation at times. While Stoke are complemented well by creative players their lack of a proper marksman has led to their failure to fulfil their potential.

Stoke have also been strongly linked with former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin Van Persie and they seem to be interested in signing the Premier League veteran. But if signed, Van Persie will not be coming alone. He would be bringing excess baggage with him. And the baggage will not necessarily be the bagful of goals he scored. Or the title winning experience from Manchester United. Things have changed since his glory days at Arsenal and his maiden season at Old Trafford. The Flying Dutch-Man no longer has the capability of flying throughout the season. He has turned into someone who is mostly seen limping throughout matches or on the grass, holding his ankles and wincing in pain.

Swansea City v Manchester United - Premier League

His niggling injury problems are something Stoke could do without in such an important and challenging season of Premier League. Towards the end of his time in the Premier League and majorly in Turkey, there have been murmurings of his ego coming into play in the dressing rooms and his tiffs with people in charge, namely the manager. While Van Persie in his glorious days, would probably have walked into most of the teams in the world, Stoke City will potentially dodge a bullet in this case if they cease their pursuit in the ex-champion.

With the rumoured availability of Gignac, who has a proven pedigree of scoring goals in all the clubs he has featured for over the years, Stoke will do well to pursue their interest in him and try to sign the player. Gignac has scored 33 goals in 50 games for the Tigres, and though it is considered a considerably easier feat, he has had a good goal-scoring record in Marseille where he netted 77 goals in 188 appearances.

He has a release clause of £20m but the Potters will hope to get his signature for far lesser than that.

He also featured for France in the Euros which shows he is still capable of performing at the highest level. Gignac is a powerful header of the ball and his physicality will help him adjust to the Premier League. He likes to shoot from distance and also tends to lay off the ball for his teammates.

At the age of 30, he will not be considered as a long-term option but will be a welcome addition to Stoke City as he will provide a different outlet to the host of attacking players they have and with games coming thick and fast Mark Hughes could do with depth in probably the most important position in their team as of this moment.

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