Eric Bocat to Stoke City transfer as TikTok hero gets Eric Cantona treatment

Left-back Eric Bocat has joined Stoke City from Sint-Truidense.
-Credit: (Image: Phil Greig)

Andre Pinto, sporting director at Eric Bocat's old club Sint-Truidense, has spoken proudly about the left-back's development over the last couple of years - and how he will be missed on and off the pitch.

Bocat, aged 24, has arrived at Clayton Wood as Stoke City's third signing of the summer, signing a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee of about £1 million. There are high hopes about his potential under Steven Schumacher in a team set up to get on the front foot and attack.

That is how he has been celebrated at Sint-Truidense, with Pinto saying: “Eric has developed well since his arrival. From the start he made playing minutes and did his job on the left flank. His speed was a weapon defensively.

"But as a wingback he also managed to create offensive danger. Our social media team will miss Eric especially, because he regularly performed a TikTok-worthy dribble."

Stoke's left-back reluctance

Stoke feel that Bocat can play at left-back, wing-back or on the wing and it is at left-back he will first and foremost challenge for a starting spot with Enda Stevens.

It hasn't been a position where Stoke have done much big business over this century. The club hadn't paid a transfer fee for a senior out-and-out left-back since signing Erik Pieters under Mark Hughes in the summer of 2013 and before that Tony Pulis favoured defenders who had played at centre-halves elsewhere in their careers, including Danny Higginbotham and Marc Wilson.

Stevens, Morgan Fox, Stephen Ward, Marc Muniesa, Marcus Hall and Tony Dorigo were free agents, Bryan Small and Nigel Worthington signed on free transfers and Josh Tymon was a teenage rookie so, if Andy Griffin is considered primarily a right-back when he returned to Stoke from Derby and Graham Potter played in midfield, the last bona fide left-back signed for a fee who wasn't called Eric or Erik was called Derek. Derek Statham joined from Southampton for a tribunal-set £75,000 in 1989.

Lee Sandford also joined that year, for £140,000 from Portsmouth, and was billed as a player who could play left-back, centre-half or anywhere across midfield. He did play mostly at left-back for Stoke.

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Bocat's parting message to STVV

Bocat was on Lille's books before he made his senior breakthrough at Mouscron in Belgium. But it is at Sint-Truidense, AKA STVV, that he has found his feet and shown his potential.

He said: "It was a pleasure to defend the colours of STVV as a player and an honour to be part of the team during the historic anniversary season. I thank the supporters and teammates for all the support.”

The defender leaves with the club's best wishes.

Pinto added: “Eric is ready for this transition."

Eric the red and white

Stoke channelled another Eric from Paris when they announced the signing on social media, with Bocat spoofing a famous press conference from Cantona in 1995.

Back then, Cantona said: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much."

Here and now, Bocat said: "When the Stokies follow the oatcakes, it is because they think the toppings will bulge over the sides. Thank you very much."

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