Changing of the Guard

Joe Allen 2016

For the first time since 2009 Stoke could be lining up without Glenn Whelan on the opening day of the season.

The arrival of Joe Allen puts Whelan’s starting position under severe threat, but certainly doesn’t signal the end of his Stoke City career.

Now closer to 33 than 32, it’s been a long term aim to find a replacement for Whelan and in 26-year-old Allen Stoke have got their man.

Whelan played all but one of Stoke’s top flight matches last season and has more than 300 appearances under his belt for the club. But the Irishman’s legs are not getting any younger, and he will benefit from more of a rest between matches- coming in when injuries and suspensions dictate.

Allen will join forces with Giannelli Imbula in the middle of the park, and Stoke’s two record signings provide a formidable pairing on paper.

Whilst Allen didn’t pull up as many trees as he’d have hoped during his four-year stint at Liverpool, it did culminate in him being named in this summer’s Euro 2016 Team of the Tournament.

At £13 million, Allen doesn’t come cheap, but when you look at the transfer values of other players this summer- notably his ex-Liverpool colleagues Jordon Ibe and Brad Smith-  then Stoke can consider the move somewhat of a bargain.

Having signed a five-year deal, Allen has laid the earliest foundations of being the heartbeat of Stoke’s team for the foreseeable future and whilst it’s always sad to see an old face phased out of the side, it’s an upgrade that can push us to the next level.

With more deals on the horizon, what was looking like a dreadful summer in the transfer market is beginning to look extremely bright.

And, with Allen on our side, perhaps he’ll be scoring the winning penalty for us in a semi-final this season rather than against us.

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