Stoke City are in the process of setting about their transfer business this summer as they look to bolster a squad which they will hope can push for immediate promotion back to the Premier League, having been relegated to the Championship at the end of the 2017/18 season.
The Chronicle Live report that the Potters have targeted two Newcastle United players who, incidentally, were significant contributors in winning the Magpies promotion back to the top flight during the 2016/17 season, and each went on to enjoy successful Premier League campaigns under Rafa Benitez last term.
It is said that both Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie have been identified as two prime options who could significantly boost Stoke’s promotion hopes next season, but it would apparently take sizeable offers to lure either play from Tyneside this summer.
Gayle scored 23 Championship goals at St James’ Park during Newcastle’s promotion winning campaign two terms ago, and the report states that Stoke even proposed a £10m move for the striker earlier in this summer’s window to give a similar injection to their attack.
However, the Potters’ approach was apparently rebuffed, as Gary Rowett’s side were told it would take a much larger sum to convince Newcastle to deal. It is said that Stoke have since returned to the fray in their hopes of signing Gayle with a fresh approach.
Rafa Benitez is said to be reluctant to sell Gayle, one of his side’s most potent goal threats, unless another forward of similar goal scoring capability can be recruited in his place. The Spaniard reportedly favours the notion of selling Aleksandar Mitrovic, currently starring for Serbia at the World Cup, rather than parting ways with Gayle this summer.
Stoke may therefore be forced to look elsewhere in their efforts to bolster their striking ranks, with Gayle himself said to be happy to remain at St James’ Park next season.
With regards to Ritchie, Stoke may apparently find themselves involved in a three-way battle for the 28-year-old winger, with his former club Bournemouth interested in bringing the Scot back to the Vitality Stadium, whilst Middlesbrough are also said to hold an interest.
It is said that interest from all three clubs has been confirmed with enquires made, but no concrete bids have yet been submitted. Ritchie has featured regularly under Rafa Benitez, making 35 Premier League appearances last term, scoring three goals and laying on five assists from the wing.
The potential departure of Ritchie remains in question, with it though to be unclear whether an offer of £15m could be enough to tempt Newcastle into selling, whilst Ritchie is apparently also happy to remain with the Magpies with three years remaining on his contract.