Stoke CEO speaks of Barca relationship

Date published: Sunday 2nd August 2015 11:41

Stoke on Monday announced Ibrahim Afellay as their eighth signing of the summer, the Netherlands playmaker joining fellow former Barcelona players Marc Muniesa, Bojan and Moha in moving to the Britannia Stadium after leaving the Nou Camp earlier in the summer.

The Potters are also interested in signing Adama Traore from the European champions, but Scholes insists there is no formal agreement in place for the club to take players from the Catalans.

“I wouldn’t call it a special relationship but we get on well with Barcelona – it is a very big club so clearly they are people we would like to get on well with,” Scholes told the Observer.

“Every player is different but there’s no doubt that it can help when they know two or three other players in the dressing room already, particularly if they are coming from overseas. It helps them make that decision and to acclimatise quickly.”

Glen Johnson, former Real Madrid youngster Joselu and Chelsea loanee Marco van Ginkel are among the other signings made by Stoke last season, and Scholes credits Hughes in making the club a more attractive one to join than it perhaps was two summers ago when he first took over from Tony Pulis.

“The perception of our club is changing but really that change happened when Mark arrived, Scholes said.

“He wanted to play a different style of football, retaining the strength that we already had but introducing a little bit of flair as well. It’s fair to say that some of the players we go for now wouldn’t have necessarily seen themselves as a Stoke player three or four years ago.

“When you’re looking to recruit a top player, they want to know they will be playing in a team that suits their abilities and playing for a manager who is going to help them develop. When they sit down face-to-face with Mark, he has played at the very top of the game so that can only help.”

Van Ginkel’s agent Karel Jansen, who has also represented Afellay, backs up Scholes’ theory, saying it was a meeting with Hughes which convinced his client to spend the season at the Britannia Stadium.

“It’s the way Stoke play that was the most important thing for Marco,” Jansen said.

“They want to play football. He had a good chat with Mark Hughes which was very beneficial and convinced us Stoke was the right place to continue his development next season. The atmosphere at the club is positive and I think they will surprise a few people.”

Stoke failed with bids to sign Yevhen Konoplyanka and Xherdan Shaqiri earlier this summer but are reported to remain interested in signing Ukraine winger Andriy Yarmolenko from Dynamo Kiev as they bid to make a truly marquee signing.

While Scholes admits the club will suffer more setbacks in their pursuit of such players, he is confident they will be able to make further head-turning signings.

“Shaqiri is a good example of what can happen,” Scholes said. “We agreed a deal with Inter and we hoped he would decide to come to us but he wanted longer to make his decision and see what other options were available.

“We weren’t prepared to wait so we had to move on and obviously you only want players who are keen to come to you. Sometimes you never know how close you are until you’ve got the deal. We always have a number of alternatives for the targets we’re chasing.

“It’s natural that we should be looking at exceptional players, although it becomes a lot harder to make the deals happen. More often than not, we’ll fail in trying to attract top players but we do everything we can and on many occasions we’ll succeed as well.”

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