Ins and Outs
Players in: Bojan Krkic (Barcelona, undisclosed), Steve Sidwell (Fulham, free), Phil Bardsley (Sunderland, free), Mame Biram Diouf (Hannover, free), Dionatan Teixeira (Banska Bystrica, undisclosed), Victor Moses (Chelsea, loan), Oussama Assaidi (Liverpool, loan)
Players out: Michael Kightly (Burnley, undisclosed), Matthew Etherington (released), Cameron Jerome (Norwich, undisclosed), Juan Agudelo (released), Ryan Shotton (Derby, loan), Jamie Ness (Crewe, loan)
SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW ASSESSMENTS
PREMIER LEAGUE: Arsenal | Aston Villa | Burnley | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Hull City | Leicester City | Liverpool | Man City | Man Utd | Newcastle | QPR | Southampton | Stoke | Sunderland | Swansea | Tottenham | West Brom | West Ham
Summing up the window
I think this has been a great window for the Potters, not only getting business done nice and early, but Mark Hughes strengthening the squad where it was needed. The buying and selling of players is an area that chairman Peter Coates clearly identified for improvement following Tony Pulis' departure, so for Hughes to bring in such quality (and make a profit as well as keeping his best players) is a magnificent achievement. The fringe players are starting to make way in order to free up wages and balance the numbers against the incomings, leaving the manager with a group looking more and more capable of adding something to the first-team squad. The reason it's not quite a score of 10 is because there are still one or two high earners who need to be moved on, but despite that I'd suggest the fans are more than happy with this transfer window. 9/10
Best piece of business?
It would be easy to point to the high-profile arrival of Bojan but, while signing the Spaniard remains a huge coup for the club, I think the best piece of business was the arrival of Mame Diouf to lead the line. He was a long-term target for Hughes to solve the side's goal-scoring problems and to get him on a free transfer having agreed an 8 million pound fee just 12 months earlier was a huge bonus and the money saved a significant boost to the coffers to hopefully be used elsewhere this season. His record in Germany speaks for itself and, having scored his first league goal in the impressive 1-0 win at Manchester City, I think one or two more will see him go on the kind of scoring run fans have not had the luxury of since the club's return to the Premier League.
Worst piece of business?
I wouldn't say there has been any bad business, but I do reserve a little disappointment at Oussama Assaidi reportedly pricing himself out of a move back to the Potteries, but in Victor Moses the manager seems to have found a more than able and willing alternative. Another disappointment was the collapse of Wilson Palacios' move to Qatar; he remains a high earner who is likely to see very little action and to have him hanging around and drawing a significant wage isn't ideal.
What remaining issues are there?
I didn't think there were any more gaps in preseason, but having watched the first few games, I think the side would benefit from a ball-playing centre-back and a confident defensive midfield powerhouse. Marc Wilson continues to frighten the life out of me and, having already been at fault for both of the side's goals conceded this season, is one I would hope to replace sooner rather than later, especially because it looks as if Robert Huth is not yet fit/in favour. In midfield, Glen Whelan has struggled to maintain last season's form and, at times this season, has looked a nervous shadow of the player he can be -- so to find a long-term replacement for him would be ideal.
Who could help in January?
With those gaps in mind, I would be more than happy to welcome Mo Diame to the club; a midfield destroyer who is more than happy on the ball and on the fringes at West Ham following the arrival of Alex Song from Barcelona. Having looked one of their best players, he has suffered from the side's direct style under Sam Allardyce and has often found himself used out of position -- struggling to make an impact. A move to the Potteries, and a return to his favoured role, could be a good one for him, and Hughes' style would be much better suited to his own. Many Stoke fans will be hoping for this one come January.