It always happens after a big tournament.
One player from each country stands out and usually one that didn’t stand out before. This time around after a decent Euro 2016, Joe Allen had clubs scrambling for his signature.
The 26-year-old Welsh midfielder was one of the stars that saw Wales unexpectedly go all the way to the semi-finals.
The footballing merry-go-round hasn’t stopped for Allen since, who left Liverpool for Stoke City for a fee of around £13m. Strangely enough, despite the hype after the Euros, it’s £2m less than the Anfield club paid when signing him from Swansea City in 2012.
91 games later and Allen will start the next leg of his footballing career under another Welshman, Mark Hughes, at the Bet365 Stadium.
With the move to Stoke, you have to wonder why Jurgen Klopp decided to let him leave. Especially if he can play as well as he did for Wales this summer.
Looking back at last season, Allen found it hard to get the starts he wanted under Klopp and the thought is that he felt under used by the German, especially in the first half of his reign. Now that signings are on their way, one of which Marko Grujic, another midfielder, is on board, Klopp probably felt that this was the time to recoup as much as he could while the players name was in lights.
Despite having impressed during this summer’s tournament in France, Allen still finds club captain Jordan Henderson as well Emre Can, Lucas Leiva and James Milner ahead of him at Anfield, and so his choices were limited with just a year left on his current contract.
In the Guardian, Allen said: “As a footballer you want to play every minute of every game. When you don’t it can be disappointing.
“That’s natural for anyone; that’s not specific to me. It’s how you react. You have to make sure you don’t let it affect you to a point that, when you do get your chances, you’re not up to it.
“What was great about the second half of the season was all the different competitions and how far we went. The support [from the fans] has been brilliant in the last few months.”
Allen is certainly going to be a useful player in the red and white stripes of Stoke City.
Clearly a hard-working, tactically disciplined and tenacious, albeit not overly physical, midfielder, Allen is capable of helping his team both creatively and offensively courtesy of his ability to take the ball from defence to attack effectively after winning back possession.
A versatile and gifted player with a low centre of gravity and quick feet, he is capable of playing in several midfield roles. Due to his vision, composure in possession, efficient passing, and ability to dictate the tempo of his team’s play in midfield as a playmaker, Allen has been described as the Welsh Xavi’ and as the ‘Welsh Pirlo by former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.
Former club, Swansea City were also in the hunt for the player, but were too late and many around Swansea see this as a missed opportunity.
Not so for Stoke City. Allen knows the Potters manager well and as Hughes builds a progressive side and a club that is going the right way, next season can only get better.