The season is over and so is Stoke City’s decade-long stay in the Premier League.
It was a forgettable campaign for Stoke, with the management placing faith in Mark Hughes for far too long after he had lost control of the dressing room.
When the sink had already sunk half deep, Stoke appointed Paul Lambert but the former Aston Villa manager couldn’t defy the unthinkable and they got relegated to the Championship.
Stoke are expected to persist with Lambert even though he couldn’t steer them to safety in the Premier League. It is painful for any team to suffer relegation but Lambert must be buoyant and start planning on how he could help Stoke earn promotion to the top-flight again.
Here are three players Stoke must sign to give themselves a chance to win promotion to the Premier League next season.
Frank Fielding (Bristol City)
Now that Stoke are relegated, Butland could consider leaving them as the Championship is too low for his capabilities. Butland was one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League and is flying to the World Cup with the England squad.
It is certain that a large offer will come for the star goalkeeper and if that happens, then the Potters would have no option but to sell him.
Butland’s departure would allow Lambert to reinvest the funds in improving his squad ahead of next season. A suitable replacement could come in the form of Bristol City’s Frank Fielding.
Once touted to be the next big thing in English football, Fielding failed to live up to the hype but has admirably performed for Bristol City in the last couple of seasons. The 30-year-old is one of the best shot-stoppers in the Championship and a move to Stoke City in the summer could be the best thing for him.
Gabby Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)
Agbonlahor has said farewell to Aston Villa, bringing an end to his 17-year stay at Villa Park. He may not have been a huge success at Villa, especially in recent years, but the 31-year-old striker could do a good job at Stoke.
Stoke definitely need some experienced players who can settle into the team quickly and help them move forward. Agbonlahor may lack the agility and speed which once made him an exciting striker in the Premier League but he still has the ability to make an impact.
The 31-year-old could be an asset to the Stoke side aiming to win promotion back to the Premier League.
Timm Klose (Norwich City)
Klose has gone through some testing times since joining Norwich City from Wolfsburg in 2016 but the defender has found his feet this season in an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Canaries.
The Swiss centre-back has been a pillar at the back for Norwich in the Championship. Klose would be an excellent signing for Lambert and would certainly be a suitable replacement for loanee Kurt Zouma, who will return to his parent club Chelsea in the summer.