According to a recent report from The Daily Mail, Stoke City have launched a £10 million move for defender James Chester. The Aston Villa centre back enjoyed a fine season in helping the Villans finish fourth in the Championship and thus qualify for the end-of-season play-offs, although Steve Bruce’s men came up short in their quest to return to the Premier League after losing 1-0 to Fulham in the final at Wembley.
And £7.2 million-rated Chester (as per Transfermarkt) is one man who has been linked with a move away this summer, and were Gary Rowett’s men to indeed seal a deal for the Wales international, they would be the team to beat in the second tier this season.
Ultimately, it was something a surprise that the Potters were relegated from the top-flight last term to end their ten-year stint in the top tier, especially when one looks at the squad that was available to managers Mark Hughes and Paul Lambert.
And while some of those players have indeed left this summer, most notably Xherdan Shaqiri, the likes of Ryan Shawcross, Jack Butland, Mame Biram Diouf, and Darren Fletcher, to name but a few, still remain at the bet365 Stadium as of now, thus giving new boss Rowett a great foundation from which to build a promotion-winning squad.
And the former Derby boss has gone for genuine Championship experience in the transfer market as well in bringing in the likes of Benik Afobe, Adam Federici, James McClean, and Tom Ince so far, much in the same way Newcastle did in their title-winning campaign of 2016/17.
Add in the potential arrival of Villa’s Chester, and the Potters would take some stopping in the second tier this term.
Arguably, 29-year-old Chester was one of the best defenders in the Championship last season in helping the Villans to one of the best defensive records in the division, what with Bruce’s side shipping just 42 goals in their 46 league games in the regular season.
And with Chester playing all 46 of those matches, alongside the three in the play-offs, it’s clear that he had as big an influence as anyone in helping the Midlands giants become a difficult side to score against and thus beat – he could well do the same at Stoke.
Alongside Shawcross, the duo could strike up a formidable centre back partnership at Championship level, and with the likes of McClean, Ince, and Afobe in the attacking areas, the foundations are certainly there for Rowett to take the club back to the top-flight at the first time of asking.
As such, were the Potters to indeed seal a deal for the Wales international, they would be the team to beat in the second tier this term.
Stoke fans… what do you think? Let us know!