With the new Premier League season just weeks away, and managers frantically trying to assemble their squads in time for kick-off on 8th August, two of the clubs making waves in the transfer market are Crystal Palace and Stoke City.
At this time of year, neither club are typically backed to mix it with the movers and shakers at the top end of the table, but the 2015/16 season could prove a different story after some significant transfer activity at both Selhurst Park and the Britannia Stadium.
Stoke achieved their record points total last season, thrashing Liverpool 6-1 on the final day to secure ninth place and a total of 54 points. Mark Hughes’ side have made themselves an attractive prospect in next season’s Premier League betting after signing defender Philipp Wollscheid from Bayer Leverkusen and goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard from the Danish Superliga.
But Hughes hasn’t finished there, and the names being linked with the club suggest that Stoke are preparing to make a real push for a place in the top eight next season, or even a charge for the European qualification spots.
Despite having already signed one ‘keeper in Haugaard, Hughes is hoping to tie up a deal to bring veteran Aston Villa shot-stopper Shay Given to the Britannia, and his pursuit of seasoned international players might not end there.
Former Liverpool and Chelsea full-back Glen Johnson is a free agent after leaving Anfield at the end of last season, and Hughes is said to be going after the 30-year-old’s signature, although he faces competition from Premier League rivals West Ham.
Hughes will produce one of the signings of the summer if he is successful in his attempts to bring Inter Milan winger Xherdan Shaqiri to Stoke, and it is understood that the Italian giants have accepted a £12 million offer.
Enter Shaqiri? Stoke City fans and @petercrouch sent into meltdown by surprise bid http://t.co/attPjeIrD2 #SCFC pic.twitter.com/nip2vFDR1u
— Indy Football (@IndyFootball) July 2, 2015
Switzerland star Shaqiri, 23, was a target for Liverpool last season, but he chose a move from Bayern Munich to the San Siro. Now he is said to be ready to move again, but Stoke are having to be patient as they await his decision.
Meanwhile, over at Palace, Alan Pardew is poised to make a coup of his own by bringing Paris St Germain midfielder Yohan Cabaye to Selhurst Park.
Cabaye worked under Pardew during his time at Newcastle, and now the pair look set to be reunited after a fee of £10 million, rising to £13 million with add-ons, was said to be agreed for the 29-year-old Frenchman.
Cabaye would break the club transfer fee record at Palace, where James McArthur is currently the most expensive player in the club’s history after signing for £7 million from Wigan last summer.
Pardew knows all about Cabaye’s talent after he scored 17 goals in 79 appearances during a successful spell under his management on Tyneside, and he looks set to join a club hoping to improve on last season’s impressive 10th place finish.