Stoke City tonight were on the verge of confirming a sucker punch to their relegation rivals by announcing the double signing of Robert Huth and Sanli Tuncay as Muhammad Ali wasn't the only big name frequenting the Britannia this afternoon. Unconfirmed reports from various news outlets suggest Pulis has pulled off a masterstroke by actually confirming the audacious £11m swoop on Middlesborough.
This move represents a major leap forward for the club as Tony Pulis continues his quest to establish Stoke City as a true Premier League side and these signings have sent a mass signal of intent to not only the rest of English football but that of the World.
Huth, also known as 'the Berlin Wall' is a no nonsense German International Centre Back with 2 Premier League Winner's medals from his time at the then Champions of England, Chelsea. Huth played his way into the German National side and formed a formidable partnership with Per Mertasacker in the Confederations Cup for his country. Injuries meant he lost his place in the national side but recently has been back involved in the German set up and is thought to be keen to fight his way back into the German defence for next year's World Cup in South Africa. It remains to be seen whether or not Huth will start in the middle or be deployed in a full back position, it would certainly be harsh to drop either of Faye or Shawcross so I anticipate some re-jigging at the back to accommodate all three players.
Tuncay is a real marque signing and represents probably the biggest transfer this club has seen for a generation. The diminutive Turk is a very creative player with bounds of energy, He has endeared himself with the fans of every club he has played for with his passion and workrate. He is most suited to playing in the 'hole' in a floating role but can also play up front or anywhere across midfield.
Tuncay first came to the World's attention as he scored a hat trick against Manchester United in the Champions League during his time at Fenerbahce; only the second person to have achieved such a feat. A move to the Premier League happened soon afterwards as he arrived on Teeside with a glowing reputation. The expectation was rewarded as the flying Turk was taken to the hearts of the Boro faithful, with chants of 'one player, we've only got one player' regularly heard from the terraces of the Riverside signifying his importance to the North East club. This impact was confirmed when in 2008/2009 Tuncay swept the board winning all 4 major accolades at his club; the Players Player of the Year (75% of the vote), Garmin Player of the Year, the Middlesbrough FC Official Supporters’ Club Prize and the Terrace Legends Award. Tuncay hasn't just excelled at club level, he is also Turkey's Captain, having played 68 games with a goal return of 20, including 2 hat tricks.
The reported fee of £11 is a relative bargain for Stoke City, in January of this year Southgate laughed off claims that Tuncay was on his way to Chelsea for a reported £9m, saying that if he was to even entertain him leaving it would be for much more money than the figure reported.
I am absolutely delighted to welcome both players to Stoke and especially look forward to seeing the silky skills of Tuncay - we just need to work out exactly where to play him now, the idea of a free role in a Pulis side simply doesn't compute so a midfield role is more likely to be the case.
Today is a happy day and is hopefully these signings are the first in a line of dominos that will see even more quality come into the club as the 1st September looms..