Just when you thought the “Stokelona” dream had been consigned to Stoke City’s past comes a report that the Potters are ready to make a summer swoop for Barcelona B captain Sergi Palencia.
According to the Daily Mail, Stoke scouts have made regular checks on the 21-year-old over the past 18 months. And with Palencia about to move into the final year of his current contract, which has a £10.3m buy-out clause, the Potters are ready to make their move.
The Mail says: “Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique rated Palencia highly enough to include him in his 30-man Champions League squad last September, but Sergi Roberto’s emergence as an option at right-back has halted his progress to the first-team.
“With Barcelona also reportedly in the market for a new right-back, Palencia may find himself even further down the pecking order by the start of next season.”
Palencia has been with Barca since the age of 10, progressing through the club’s famed La Masia academy. By the age of 17, he was compared to Bayern Munich full-back Philipp Lahm by the Spanish media. He made his first team debut last October against Espanyol in the Spanish Super Cup, and impressed despite playing out of position at left-back.
The Mail adds: “The Potters are looking for a long-term alternative to both Glen Johnson and Phil Bardsley, both of whom will be 32 when the new season starts in August. Mark Hughes will not be able to offer the European pedigree that comes with playing for Barcelona but he could give the Spaniard a first-team role along with the inevitable Premier League pay rise.”