According to The Telegraph (h/t Stoke Sentinel), Stoke City have been credited with an interest in Shrewsbury Town midfielder Josh Laurent, who has caught the eye with a number of impressive displays in the League One this season.
As per the report, Martin O’Neill is keen to reshuffle his midfield options during the mid-season trading period and are keeping tabs on Laurent with a view to a potential transfer before the January deadline.
The Leytonstone-born ace has made a total of 28 appearances in all competitions for Shrewsbury Town so far this term, accumulating 4 goals and 4 assists in the process. Laurent has been a key cog in manager Sam Ricketts’ wheel in the third-tier, having started 19 times for the Shrews in League One.
The 24-year-old, who previously had stints at QPR, Brentford and Wigan Athletic, joined Shrewsbury Town back in the summer of 2018 and has since carved out a reputation for himself as a hardworking and versatile central midfielder, registering a decent tally of 8 goals and 10 assists in 79 appearances across all competitions.
Meanwhile, Stoke City currently sit 21st in the Championship standings and the Potters need some inspiration to turn the tables heading into a brutal second half of the campaign.
Michael O’Neill has sparked somewhat of a resurgence since taking over the reins from Nathan Jones back in November but Stoke City still have a lot to do if they are to preserve their status as a Championship club.
Badou Ndiaye and Peter Etebo have both been farmed out on loan to Trabzonspor and Getafe respectively while another midfield mainstay, Joe Allen, is closing in on a move back to the Premier League, with David Moyes keen to sign him at West Ham. (h/t Stoke Sentinel)
Regardless of what the future holds for Allen, Stoke’s links with Josh Laurent suggest that the Potters are planning to make a few additions to their midfield cavalry after parting ways with the likes of Etebo and Ndiaye.
The likes of Ryan Woods, Sam Clucas and Jordan Cousins have all played a substantial role under O’Neill but with the manager not showing much faith in Nick Powell and Mark Duffy, it would certainly make sense for the Potters to look at options elsewhere in the winter market.
To put things into perspective, Josh Laurent hardly has any Championship experience under his belt but his burgeoning reputation as a good all-round central midfielder in the League One means that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Stoke City to take a punt on him in January.
As per whoscored, Laurent has averaged 1.8 tackles, 0.9 interceptions, 1.4 shots, 0.7 key passes and 1 dribble per game in the third-tier this term, figures which are decent enough to prove his skill set at both ends of the pitch.
Add to that his work-rate, versatility to play in multiple roles and tenacity, and it’s easy to see why he could be a useful addition to a midfield cavalry that has looked pretty pedestrian at times in the Championship.
Laurent, 24, still has a lot of time to make significant adjustments to his game to make the step up to the second-tier. Given that his contract at Shrewsbury Town expires in 2020, the Potters should try to negotiate a cut-price deal for the midfielder before the January deadline.
Having said that, Stoke City beating off competition in the race to sign Josh Laurent could be a step in the right direction as O’Neill looks to stamp his authority on the squad with necessary changes during the transfer window.
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