After a pretty quiet summer transfer window, Stoke City made a flurry of moves on deadline day, including the loan signing of Wilfried Bony. While the headlines of the day were dominated by big money buys like Moussa Sissoko and David Luiz, Bony could prove to be one of, if not the most, impactful signings of deadline day.
Stoke had a pretty interesting season last year. They finished ninth on 51 points, as Marc Hughes guided Stoke to a top half finish for the third straight season, something they never did under Tony Pulis. But they won three points fewer than they did last season, scored the fewest goals they’d scored under Hughes with 41, and had by far their worst goal difference under Hughes of -14. On top of their concerning lack of goals and poor goal difference, their shot numbers were way down. They went from outshooting their opponents by 1.2 shots per game in 2014-2015 to being outshot by 3.0 shots per game in 2015-2016, according to FootballInTheClouds.blogspot.com. The poor shot numbers, lack of goals, and poor goal difference would have all been major concerns at the end of last season.
While they have multiple problems in their squad, striker was probably the most glaring problem. Neither Mame Biram-Diouf nor Joselu ever really got going last season. Both were in and out of the side and neither scored more than five goals or played more than 1300 minutes. For all the talent in Stoke’s midfield, they seriously lacked a player up top to spearhead any attacks.
Bony moved to the Manchester City from Swansea City in January of 2015 for a reported fee of around 25m. Since his move to the Eithad, the Ivorian has spent most of his time on the bench. He made only 13 Premier League starts last season and, like Diouf and Joselu, played fewer than 1300 minutes last season. The inconsistent playing time meant Bony struggled and finished the season with only four goals.
Bony has struggled to find consistent playing time since moving to City, but at Stoke he will be back to being the number one striker. The last time he was the number one striker, the 27 year old put up big numbers for Swansea. In his season and a half with Swansea, Bony scored 20 non penalty goals in 3,775 minutes or 0.48 non penalty goals per 90 minutes, according to Whoscored.com. For context, among players that played more than 1500 minutes, only Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Jermaine Defoe, Olivier Giroud, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero scored 0.48 or more non penalty goals last season, according to Whoscored.com.
While his goals numbers dropped at Manchester City, his shot numbers were still good. He averaged 3.9 shots per 90 minutes and 4.6 shots per 90 minutes in his season and a half at Swansea. In his one full season at Manchester City, he averaged 4.4 shots per 90 minutes. His stable shot numbers suggest that he could replicate his goalscoring form at Swansea with Stoke.
Stoke have been stuck in the table for the last few seasons. They’re better than mid-table, but they’re not quite good enough to push into the Europa League spots either. They’ll hope that their summer signings, specifically Bony, can push them up into a Europa League spot this season.