Frozen out Stoke City striker a wanted man after rediscovering goal touch


Mame Diouf’s form after leaving Stoke City has earned him potentially lucrative interest in China and Russia.

Diouf is 33 now and has been one of the top scorers in the Turkish top division this season after joining Hatayspor as a free agent.

His new club only won promotion last summer but he has been a main man as they currently sit sixth, even if qualification for the Europa League is probably out of reach.

He has scored 13 in 30 appearances, putting him fourth in the hunt for golden boot behind teammate Aaron Boupendza (18) and Besiktas pair Vincent Aboubakar (15) and Cyle Larin (14). He has chipped in with five assists too.

Hatayspor want to keep him beyond the end of his contract at the end of the season.

Manager Ethem Sunar said: “There are transfer offers for Mame from China and Russia. At the end of the season we will make our decision with the board of directors. We want him to stay next season.”

It all highlights the surprise that he was barely used as a first choice striker in the last four of his six years at Stoke.

He had been top scorer for Mark Hughes in his first season, with 11 goals in the Premier League, but lost his regular spot during the next campaign and was then used as first an emergency right-back and then first choice wing-back.


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Hughes said back in the summer of 2017: “Mame is such an honest player. He gives everything he’s got. At times when we’ve played him down the middle we’ve found it difficult to get him quality balls and at times it’s bouncing around and he feels a little bit frustrated because he feels he’s got more to give.

“But in a wing-back position he’s able to expend all his energy in a defensive and attacking sense. He’s got a lot of energy. It’s a role that I think at times he needs convincing about regarding his effectiveness and actually playing the role.

“But I think he’s understanding now that it can actually be enjoyable with the abilities he has.”

Diouf never seemed particularly keen on the conversion, even if he gave his all.

“They tricked me! They tricked me!” he said with a big smile on his face that summer. “What can I do? They tricked me because that was a game when we needed someone to go right-back so I did it and after that I think maybe I don’t know what happened. You have to ask the manager.”

Hughes had seen his old Stoke winger Victor Moses be converted to wing-back to great effect by Chelsea under Antonio Conte.

But Diouf said: “We’re not the same, I’m a striker! I’m a striker and they’ve moved me to the right, they’ve moved me here, they’ve moved me there. Oh, wow. I’ve been turning around in circles.

“But it’s a game of football and I like to play football and I like to enjoy it as much as I can when I’m on the pitch. Doing my best is doing what I can to help the team.”

Paul Lambert restored Diouf to centre-forward when he replaced Hughes in January 2018 but he only scored twice as Stoke went down

He was on the fringes under Gary Rowett, making six starts, and then bizarrely didn’t start a game under Nathan Jones, whose side couldn’t buy a goal at times. In fact, Jones froze Diouf out of the first team squad entirely, despite the Senegal international clearly being a good professional.

Michael O’Neill immediately brought him back into the fold and was rewarded with the winner in his first home match in charge, in the 93rd minute against Wigan in November 2019.

“It’s a big feeling, a big relief, because I’ve been working for that moment for a long time,” Diouf told StokeonTrentLive.

“I’ve been thinking about it and now it has really happened.

“I am very happy, I’m smiling!

“It’s always good to score the winning goal and always good to play in Stoke again.”

“Tottenham was the last goal (he scored in April 2018), but I always think I will play for Stoke again. That’s me, that’s how I behave, that’s how I am, always keep working hard and one day your time will come. I never gave up. I come from a long way (in life).”

Diouf remained in the squad and made another seven sub appearances to help Stoke stay up before being released at the end of his contract.

His 25 goals for Stoke included a spectacular pitch-slaloming solo effort at Manchester City while he has been part of brilliant team performances, like a 4-2 win over Arsenal in December 2014 and a 6-1 hammering of Liverpool in 2015.

He wrote a message to fans saying: “Six wonderful years, gave everything. Not easy sometimes but I’ll only keep good memories. Thanks to all at the club. I’ll never forget you the supporters, you are amazing. Forever a Potter.”

He added on Instagram: “Grateful for the chance of playing in this incredible team. The most I will miss is the fans. You will always be my family. Thanks for everything.”





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