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Watch out! This £5m Stoke City Attacker Could Have a Breakthrough Season This Year

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Why The Upcoming Season Could Be Sobhi’s Breakthrough One

Stoke City endured a pretty disappointing season last time around. After having established themselves as a top-half Premier League club in recent years under the leadership of Mark Hughes, the Potters finished 13th in the league table at the end of 2016-17 season.

There were a lot of disappointments over the course of the season for the Stoke faithful. The struggles of on-loan striker Wilfried Bony, the misfiring nature of winter window signing Saido Berahino, last year’s record signing Giannelli Imbula finding it hard to get going, it all made for a gloomy atmosphere around the Britannia.

However, there were a few positives that came out from the campaign. The return of goalkeeper Jack Butland from a long-term injury and his immediate impact in the latter stages of the season was a pleasing sight to see. The impact that on-loan defender Bruno Martins Indi had was also impressive.

But it was a youngster who captured the imaginations of the Stoke faithful. Ramadan Sobhi, signed by the Potters last summer from Egyptian club Al Ahly for a fee of £5million, showed several glimpses of his amazing potential. The 20-year old arrived amid much hype after having helped Al Ahly to the Egyptian league title under former Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham boss Martin Jol.

“I sent a message to Jose Mourinho and asked him to keep an eye on Ramadan with Stoke City. He is a brilliant player and he can play at Manchester United, the Dutch manager said after the transfer.

He was clearly disappointed on losing his star youngster, because as far as he was concerned, the Potters had nabbed a potential superstar, at a fee that he deemed to be “peanuts”.

Arguably the best young player to have come through from Egypt, it is not hard to see why Sobhi has been rated so highly by so many in the footballing fraternity. The youngster finished his first season in England with 20 appearances across all competitions and registered just 2 assists. He did not find the back of the net even once. But, his sheer talent and immense capabilities were on full display in his handful of appearances.

Sobhi has been impressive each time he has taken the field and was among the 40-player shortlist for the prestigious Golden Boy award this year. The fact that he could not play more over the course of last season was largely due to the fact that manager Mark Hughes was careful and pragmatic about burdening the youngster in his debut season and the competition provided by Stoke’s stalwarts – Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri.

What makes Sobhi an exciting talent is the strength and the power that he possesses on the flanks. While he may not be the fastest, but he does have enough pace to blow past defenders and that combined with his power means that fullbacks usually come second best in a contest against him. His technical ability and dribbling skills make him a huge threat from the wide areas, because they enable him to create chances for his teammates while also allowing him to have a go at the goal by himself.

His man-of-the-match display in one of his earlier games against West Ham United, when he took on a virtual beast in Michail Antonio was enough for the manager and the Stoke City fans to know that they had a special talent in their hands. It is for this reason that he has already been capped 17 times by the Egyptian national team at such a young age, having made his debut back in 2015.

The Premier League is regarded as one of the most difficult competitions, owing to the pace and the physicality in English football. Many big names struggle to get going in their first season in England. But that hasn’t been the case for Sobhi. His ability to run past defenders with his nimble footwork and the strength that allows him to hold off the opponents has been well demonstrated in his displays so far. What sets him apart from most youngsters is his willingness and the heart to help out his team when not in possession. Sobhi possesses a very strong work ethic and is a hard worker off the ball.

Strong, fast, intelligent and technically good, the 20-year old has all the attributes to excel on the biggest of the stages, but as it is with most young players, there exist several chinks in his armour. It was seen last season that he doesn’t often back himself to shoot as regularly as his manager would like him to. He also tends to hold on to the ball in the final third a little longer than needed, wasting good opportunities to give his team the edge.

However, these are things that would be ironed out with age and by putting in the hard yards. Going by the attitude that Sobhi has shown in his fledgeling career, there are good chances that he will be working hard on correcting these flaws and coming back as a much-improved player in the next season. After having spent a year acclimatising to the conditions and the rigours of English football under the careful eyes of Hughes, the upcoming season could very well turn out to be Sobhi’s big breakthrough season.