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Stoke City eyeing PSV midfield ace after suffering Shaqiri blow

| 09.01.2015

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has turned his attention to PSV after seeing midfield target Xherdan Shaqiri opt for Inter Milan over a move to the Britannia Stadium.

The Potters appeared to have moved ahead of Liverpool in the race to sign the Swiss Bayern Munich ace but after seeing the 23-year-old opt for Serie A, Hughes is now focussing on Belgian teenager Zakaria Bakkali.

The 18-year-old has been lined with a move to the Potteries before but after being sidelined since April, Hughes now believes the player is looking to resurrect his career away from the Eredivisie.

Bakkali has featured 20 times for the Dutch outfit and during that time drew admiring glances from the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

However, with that trio being spooked by the youngster’s hip surgery, reports in Holland suggest it’s a straight race between Hughes’ side and French outfit Lille as they look to snap up the teen sensation up for free in the summer.

Lille’s interest could sway Hughes to make a bid in January in order to tie things up quickly but the consensus is the former Manchester City and Wales boss will bide his time and hope the lure of the Premier League will head off Lille’s interest in the summer.

Bakkali is an exciting prospect, holding the Eredivisie record for being the youngest player to score a hat-trick, and would represent something of a coup for Hughes.

At 5ft4in he may not have the physical attributes traditionally thought of as Premier League-esque, but his pace and trickery would certainly excite the Britannia Stadium crowd.

Stoke travel to Arsenal this weekend and despite winning their last two meetings with the Gunners are priced as 6/1 outsiders.

The hosts can be backed at 1/2 to take all three points and the draw is available at 13/5.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.