Why Jordan Thompson could be a smart signing for Stoke City
The Potters have made contact with the League One outfit over a potential deal for the 22-year-old Northern Irishman ahead of the January transfer window, with Michael O’Neill keen to reshape his squad to his liking. (Football Insider h/t Stoke Sentinel)
As per the report, O’Neill has expressed his desire to add more energy and depth to his wide options during the mid-season trading period.
O’Neill was in charge of Northern Ireland when Thompson made his senior international debut in 2018 and the 50-year-old handed him his first international start in a 1-0 friendly win against Luxembourg at Windsor Park back in September earlier this year.
However, a lack of playtime at Ibrox paved the way for loan spells at Airdrieonians, Livingston and Raith Rovers before the youngster moved south of the border to settle down at Blackpool.
Having carved out a reputation for himself in the English third-tier during his first season at Blackpool, Thompson has played a key role in the Seasiders’ surge for promotion in League One this term.
The 22-year-old has chipped in with a goal and an assist apiece in 16 appearances for Simon Grayson’s side so far but he might not be plying his trade with Blackpool for much longer, with Michael O’Neill keen on reuniting with the midfielder at the bet635 Stadium in January.
Stoke City currently find themselves languishing 24th in the Championship standings ahead of their home fixture against high-flying Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day.
O’Neill has managed to guide the Potters to 3 wins in his 8 games in charge so far but he will surely need to do a lot more to steer the club away from the relegation zone in the second half of the campaign.
To that end, the manager will need to plug at least some of the gaping holes in his squad and O’Neill’s decision to prioritize recruitment in wide areas of the pitch in January certainly makes sense, with Stoke’s lack of quality on the flanks quite galling.
Thompson is not an out-and-out winger by any means but he has the versatility to do a job for his team in the wide areas. The 22-year-old has excelled at Blackpool in League One and the time looks right for him to test his credentials in a more competitive league.
With Sam Clucas, Ryan Woods, Jordan Cousins, Peter Etebo and Badou Ndiaye all competing for three midfield spots in O’Neill’s preferred 4-3-3 system, the Potters are not really short of options in the middle of the park.
That being said, however, Thompson apparently has the all-round game to add a bit more spark to a midfield cavalry that has looked quite pedestrian this term.
However, with Ndiaye already confirming a loan move to Trabzonspor in January (h/t Telegraph) and Etebo also linked with an exit during the mid-season window (h/t Stoke Sentinel), Thompson looks like a player in the right age bracket to come through the door as a long-term solution to sort out the club’s midfield conundrum.
As per whoscored, Thompson boasts of a pass success rate of 77.9%, including 1.2 crosses, 1.8 long balls and 1 key pass per game in the League One this term.
The 22-year-old still has a lot of room for development and while he might not be an instant upgrade on the likes of Allen and Clucas, O’Neill’s knowledge of the player’s abilities would be an added boost.
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Having said that, Jordan Thompson to Stoke City in January makes perfect sense as O’Neill looks to stamp his authority with necessary changes to his squad heading into the crucial second half of the campaign.