Stoke have been in desperate need of a striker for the past couple of seasons with big-name additions Wilfried Bony, Saido Berahino and Jese Rodriguez all failing to impress. The trio scored just three professional goals between them for Stoke in their combined two seasons at the club.
Failure to recruit a striker has left Stoke overly reliant on Peter Crouch and Mame Biram Diouf, a fact that proved pivotal to the clubs’ relegation as the strike pair could only muster a combined 10 goals this season.
The Stoke board accept it’s an issue they need to address. The club would like to add two strikers to the first team fold in the summer and Gayle is the first player they have in their crosshairs after struggling for game time at Newcastle.
Gayle moved to Newcastle for £10m following the Tyneside club’s relegation in 2016 and was instrumental in guiding his side to the Championship title. Gayle scored 23 goals in 34 games as Newcastle bounced straight back and Stoke are now looking to follow a similar blueprint by enlisting his services.
Rafa Benitez would want another striker through the door first before allowing Gayle to leave, with Aleksandar Mitrovic likely to be sold and former Stoke star Joselu failing to impress. Newcastle were on the lookout for a new striker in January though, adding short-term loanee Islam Slimani. Attacking reinforcements could make Gayle’s position at the club tenuous and boost Stoke’s chances of getting their man.
Stoke are expecting a huge turnover of players this summer, with several players actively seeking exits and several others wanted off the wage bill. Stoke City chairman Peter Coates this week admitted the club is in need of a complete overhaul in a public statement to the fans.
“It is absolutely clear that a major overhaul is required. We need to regain our identity and focus and the summer will be spent doing this.” he said, as quoted by The Sentinel.
Xherdan Shaqiri is practically already out of the door, although he seems an unpopular choice amongst fans of some of the clubs interested in his services. Likewise, the club faces an uphill battle to keep hold of Jack Butland, it appears the final decision will rest with the player who is refusing to offer any assurances of his future.
Jese, Kostas Stafylidis and Kurt Zouma will all return to their parent clubs and Ibrahim Afellay’s contract has been torn up. In addition, Stoke hope to move on Glen Johnson, Stephen Ireland, Kevin Wimmer, Saido Berahino, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Giannelli Imbula.
The influx of funds and the weight of the wage bill is hoped to be enough for Stoke to hold on to some of their actual star performers this season like Joe Allen and Badou Ndiaye. A strong core of professionals are expected to spearhead a promotion charge backed up by a heavy investment in star power that fit the new Stoke mould.