Three players Stoke City should sign

Sports Mole picks out three players that we believe would be positive additions for Mark Hughes's Stoke City.

While everybody can appreciate that Tony Pulis did a highly commendable job in not only getting Stoke City into the Premier League, but keeping them there, the time was right for a change last summer.

Some supporters had grown frustrated at the style of football that was being played, with Mark Hughes being appointed to produce more exciting performances. It took a while for the Welshman's ideas to be put into the practice, but once the players had adapted, they were able to record Stoke's highest ever Premier League finish - ninth.

Now, Hughes will be keen to build upon that success, having already recruited Phil Bardsley, Mame Biram Diouf and Steve Sidwell. More signings are needed, though, and here Sports Mole has picked out three players that we believe the club should target.

1. Micah Richards, Manchester City

Manchester City's Micah Richards in action during the match against Wigan on April 17, 2013© Getty Images

In Pulis's final season at the Stoke helm, the Potters shipped 45 goals, keeping 12 clean sheets in the process. In contrast, under Hughes, Stoke conceded 52 goals over the 38 games and kept three fewer clean sheets. That may not be an overly dramatic alteration, but it nevertheless suggests that a more expansive game comes at a slight cost defensively.

Currently, the Stoke rearguard is a solid one. The likes of Robert Huth, Ryan Shawcross, Geoff Cameron and Marc Wilson are all defenders that are aware of their limits and tend not to stray beyond them.

While not being the most natural of ball-players, 26-year-old Richards would still add some composure to the Stoke defence. The former England international is also an athletic and powerful presence, which makes him a tough opponent for centre-forwards. In addition, Hughes will know all about Richards, having worked with him during his stint in charge of Man City.

2. Nathan Redmond, Norwich City

Hull's Jake Livermore and Norwich's Nathan Redmond battle for the ball on August 24, 2013© Getty Images

Ever since Stoke earned promotion to the Premier League, they've relied on getting crosses into the box. Yet, Pulis wanted his wingers to hug the touchline, whereas Hughes has given them more freedom to roam inside to link up with the central midfielders and strikers.

It was that flexibility that got the best out of Oussama Assaidi, who spent last season on loan at the Britannia Stadium. He produced some lively and promising performances, but he was dogged by a persistent knee injury that is not believed to have fully healed.

Reports have suggested that Hughes is still keen to sign the 25-year-old on a permanent basis, with a fee in the region of £7m mooted. With that knee problem, though, the Moroccan could well be a risky addition. Redmond, on the other hand, would be a more than adequate replacement. The England Under-21 international, who has plenty of speed and skill, showed his potential for Norwich last term and could be available for less than Assaidi.

3. Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur

Harry Kane of Spurs is challenged by James Tomkins of West Ham during the Barclays Premier League match on May 3, 2014© Getty Images

It would seem that at present Stoke have similar strikers. Peter Crouch, Cameron Jerome and new signing Diouf are all imposing figures that can play the role of the target man.

With that in mind, a more agile centre-forward would be a useful addition - something that Hughes's pursuit of Barcelona's Bojan would suggest that the manager is in agreement with. Signing the 23-year-old, though, should be considered a gamble. He burst on to the scene at the Camp Nou as a teenager, but since then he has struggled to live up to the hype and has found goals hard to come by over the last three years.

The Spaniard is also unproven in the Premier League and while the same can perhaps be said of Kane, he has at least recently shown that he is capable of scoring goals at that level. He scored four times in 11 outings towards the end of last term for Spurs and could be available for loan this summer. At the age of 20, the England youth international will add some much needed mobility to the Stoke attack.

On loan Barcelona frontman Bojan Krkic playing for Ajax on July 25, 2013
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