Michael O’Neill sets sights on signings to excite Stoke City fans – but there must be exits too


Michael O’Neill is hoping that Rabbi Matondo is a taste of exciting and creative signings to come at Stoke City.

Matondo has joined on loan from Schalke this week and could make his debut in the FA Cup third round against Leicester this weekend.

It is seen as a coup for Stoke to land the 20-year-old and O’Neill said: “Alex Aldridge did a great job getting him in. I’m sure a number of clubs would have been attracted by the option to bring Rabbi in and we acted very quickly and it was good to get him in.

“We want to bring that type of player to the club, players that will excite and create at the top end of the pitch.

“We lost a very good young attacking player with a cruel injury and we’re trying to replace that. Rabbi is not a similar player to Tyrese but he will give us is a cutting edge in the final third. It’s been a real bonus to get him in.”

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There has been talk in Germany of a possible purchase option of around £5.5m in the summer although neither Stoke nor Schalke are giving anything away.

That kind of money is way beyond anything that Stoke have spent under O’Neill since he arrived in November 2019 due to the EFL’s financial rules, although it wouldn’t be an issue if Matondo helped win promotion.

A bid is also in for Charlton winger Alfie Doughty, who is out of contract in the summer, as Stoke focus on adding pace and youth at an affordable price.

O’Neill is not planning for any transfer war chest in the Championship with the money for comings largely depending on goings.

He said: “A lot of what we’re able to do in the market is based on what we’re able to do in terms of players leaving the club and that’s how it’s been in the previous two windows too.

“That isn’t going to change in the short-term future. We have to get through a period of that.

“I can’t really give an indication of what we might be able to do in the summer. The most important thing for me at this minute in time is to take care of the squad and to do that players need to leave.

“You have to recycle areas of the team and areas of the squad and we’re trying to do that by bringing in a different type of player who has something to prove, maybe younger players.

“We did spend quite a lot of money on players who were seasoned Championship players and it didn’t really get us to where we wanted to be.

“Since I’ve come in the approach has been different and that’s the approach I think will continue for this window and for the foreseeable future.”

Stoke is an easier sell to players like Matondo, however, than it was trying to bring in players last January when the club was fighting against relegation.

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“It was, it certainly was,” said O’Neill.

“We got a lot of knock backs last January, which was understandable. It’s a very difficult window because you’re looking possibly at players who haven’t played very much in the first half of the season.

“You’re looking at younger players in the Premier League who maybe haven’t had the impact on the first team that they’d hoped and the club is looking at it as a development. Or you’re looking at players who are out of the team and you’re seeing if they’re good enough for your team.

“January is more difficult. The number of options is a lot less and the number of options this year will be even less because it’s much more difficult to do deals for players outside the UK and with Covid and the Premier League situation, they will keep their squads as big as possible.

“There might not be the same availability with younger players who teams are always looking to bring in who can give you that edge.”





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