Stoke City transfer news as Jake Clarke-Salter reveals post-Chelsea ambition

Jake Clarke-Salter helped haul Queens Park Rangers to Championship safety this season.
Jake Clarke-Salter helped haul Queens Park Rangers to Championship safety this season. -Credit:Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Stoke City are heading into another pivotal summer transfer window and a chance to make sure the club is pointing back towards the Premier League.

The Potters have not been able to break a cycle of bottom half finishes since relegation in 2018, and it took play-off standard form in the last two-and-a-bit months of this season to win a battle against dropping into League One.

But new key figures will have a big say in what happens next ahead of a summer when there is scope to make significant changes, if not the same amount as happened last year. Steven Schumacher arrived as head coach in mid-December while Jon Walters joined in late February to become sporting director. Here is a run through of where Stoke stand going into the next few months...

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Senior players released, retained and in talks

Tyrese Campbell has left Stoke after eight years, ending on a high with a standing ovation after scoring in a final-day 4-0 win over Bristol City.

A 12-month option has been taken on Jordan Thompson's contract, Frank Fielding is staying as third-choice keeper and Stoke are in talks to keep veteran left-back Enda Stevens, it has been confirmed.

Centre-back Ciaran Clark and striker Wesley move on. Back-up keeper Blondy Nna Noukeu has also confirmed he is leaving.

A full retained list is to be confirmed in due course with decisions about players including Tom Edwards, D'Margio Wright-Phillips, David Okagbue and Matty Baker, who have been out on loan.

Loan players return to their parent clubs

Daniel Iversen, Ki-Jana Hoever, Luke McNally, Luke Cundle and Sead Hakšabanović have ended their stays at Stoke. Schumacher has talked positively about the contributions of all five, three of whom - Hoever, McNally and Haksabanovic - he inherited in December while Iversen and Cundle arrived in January.

The head coach added after the final day win: “The loan players have done brilliantly. They've been excellent and I'll thank them for their efforts, and if I ever have the chance to work with them again I would because they're all good lads, all honest, all try their best and have been brilliant since I've been here.

“Ki-Jana in the last two months has shown the quality he's got. Daniel made a brilliant save today at 1-0 and the game could have been different. Luke Cundle has shown in the last month or two how good a player he is when he has got people who will pass the ball to him. Luke McNally all season I think has been really consistent. I'm really pleased for all four of them and I'd love to work with them again.”

Stoke City loanees 2023/24

Ki-Jana Hoever (aged 22, from Wolves, 35 league starts, five sub appearances, four goals, five assists)

Luke McNally (aged 24, from Burnley, 36 starts, two sub, two goals, one assist)

Mark Travers (aged 24, from Bournemouth, 13 starts)

Daniel Iversen (aged 26, from Leicester, 18 starts)

Luke Cundle (aged 22, from Wolves, 11 starts, five sub, two goals, two assists)

Sead Haksabanovic (aged 24, from Celtic, 11 starts, eight sub, one goal, two assists)

Chiquinho (aged 24, from Wolves, one start, two sub)

Stoke City skeleton squad in close season

GK: Jack Bonham, Scott Morris, Tommy Simkin, Frank Fielding

RB: Junior Tchamadeu

LB: Liam McCarron, Enda Stevens (in talks)

CB: Michael Rose, Ben Wilmot, David Okagbue, Matty Baker

CM: Wouter Burger, Josh Laurent, Lewis Baker, Daniel Johnson, Ben Pearson, Jordan Thompson, Sol Sidibe

RW: Million Manhoef, Lynden Gooch, Mehdi Leris

LW: Bae Junho, Andre Vidigal, Nikola Jojic

CF: Ryan Mmaee, Niall Ennis, Nathan Lowe, Emre Tezgel

What Steven Schumacher has said about summer window

Steven Schumacher has kept saying there won't be a huge turnover of personnel like last year but he was asked just last week if he could make the difference he wants without unveiling a squad full of new signings.

“I think you can make a difference if you get it right, if you get the recruitment right, get the personalities right who come in then we’ll have a chance to improve our results," he said.

“The form since we’ve got here hasn’t been too bad, the points that we’ve acquired have been ok – not winning the league type of form but the type of form that can give you a chance to compete.

“It’s important we get off to a good start next year. We’ve just spoken to the players about what the off-season is going to look like, the pre-season programme and how that will probably more difficult than probably they have ever seen. If we can complement the squad with players who can help us improve then we’ll have a better chance to start the season well.”

What Schumacher said about recruitment after final game

He said after the final day win over Bristol City: "We have to trust the recruitment team, we have to see what the budget is. I don't know how hard it is going to be. Hopefully it's dead easy, hopefully we get all the targets that we want but it doesn't tend to work like that. What's important and the messages that I've got across to the recruitment team and to Jon (Walters), if I get them messages across and we can manage to get the players I feel will are going to improve us and the characters and personalities, more importantly, then I think we'll be all right."

What will the budget be?

There is no getting around the fact that Stoke's spending is limited, like any other Championship team without parachute payments, even if they have billionaire owners desperate to write out cheques.

The wage bill has come down dramatically and then been slashed again over the last four or five years as the chasm grows between the Premier League and the rest.

But they are not under the kind of constraints they were two years ago and there is an eye on how the EFL will make tweaks to regulation. The system clearly isn't working and the Premier League have made a move already. Last summer the big change was to allow wild card signings from overseas. This summer's adaptations could be just as significant.

Any interesting free agents in the Championship?

Yes there are. Here's a catalogue of all the players coming to the end of their contracts.

What Jon Walters has said about recruitment

Jon Walters has been spotted at stadiums up and down the country in the last couple of months taking personal responsibility to check and double check the targets on Stoke's shopping list. Transfer business will rarely be perfect but due diligence and character references are clearly being hammered home.

“Football is about people and everyone is looking for a weird and wonderful process but it can be quite simple," he said recently. "It’s about the people you have in the building and how you come together as a group. You want good players to be at this level, good staff members but it’s how you align together across the club and produce the best out of each other, push each other. You won’t always agree on everything and you shouldn’t but you should have the best people around you to grow and learn from each other.”

He added: “This is the role I want to be in, I love the role. The hours you put in I don’t feel like I’m doing because I love every moment of it. I don’t see my wife and children very much but I love it! It’s been non-stop but that is the role. You have to live and breathe it. If you want to be in the football world it’s every day of the week, 24/7.

“I’ll leave my house at 6am-half six and might not be back until 1.30am after watching a match. That’s just part of the process. It’s what you do. I live and breathe football, I want to be in this environment. I know this place is a very special place with very special owners, up there with the best if not the best owners in the country.

“That’s how I see it and what an opportunity to be a part of it. I know what fans expect from players at this club, I know what standard players need to be at and what needs to be in the building to push on. I’m very passionate about this role, very passionate about the football club.”

Players linked to Stoke so far

Striker Jay Rodriguez, now aged 34, has been put forward by TeamTalk as a potential target as he prepares to leave Burnley as a free agent.

Rotherham goalkeeper Viktor Johansson, aged 25, is a strong link. A relegation release clause can be triggered and Johansson will not be short of suitors. The Sun claims that Stoke are head of the queue.

Johansson was already popular enough in Rotherham and he will be remembered for buying 600 pints for supporters on the final day of the season as well as his performances over the last couple of years.

“Viktor's been a wonderful goalkeeper for the club,” said Rotherham boss Steve Evans. “Everyone is aware of the huge interest in him. I'm getting phone calls from managers who want my opinion on what he's like behind the scenes. They don't ask what he's like between sticks. They see that for themselves.”

Daniel Iversen is expected to move on from Leicester this summer if Stoke pursue his signature. He said recently: “I thought I should have gone last summer but that didn’t happen for some reason on Leicester’s side. I was disappointed. I tried to get on loan but I got a no, I tried to get sold but got a no. So there was a little bit of frustration from my side. Now in the summer I will try again but I don’t know where yet that will be.

QPR centre-back Jake Clarke-Salter is being suggested by the Telegraph's John Percy for a fee "around the £5 million to £7m mark". Anything like that would be Stoke's biggest signing since early 2019 before EFL rules really tightened the purse strings.

Clarke-Salter, aged 26 and under contract until 2026, has recently been linked with Premier League trio Crystal Palace, Wolves and all-but doomed Burnley, as well as Celtic and now-promoted Ipswich. He is showing his potential again after being tipped as a successor to John Terry while coming through the ranks at Chelsea.

He told FootballLeagueWorld this week: "When I left Chelsea I was 24, I'm 26 now. I'm now trying to build my own legacy outside of Chelsea and trying to build up my career and hopefully progress a lot with QPR.

"The ambition for me personally is to be a Premier League player eventually, something I believe I have the capability to do. Hopefully, I can do that with QPR, the club is on the up and there are some exciting times ahead."

Forward Josh Windass, aged 30, is expected to have talks about extending his stay at Sheffield Wednesday but the Sheffield Star claims Stoke, West Brom, Hull and Derby are interested in trying to lure him away.

What do you want from Stoke this summer? Have your say in the comments section