Stoke’s swoop for Ramadan Sobhi in summer 2016 created quite the storm; the young attacker’s displays for Al Ahly had earned him the moniker ‘Egyptian Messi’ and many were surprised the Potters sealed his services when a cohort of the Premier League’s top clubs were also linked with his signature at the time.
Sobhi hasn’t quite lived up to that reputation just yet; his first season at Stoke was very much one of settling in and transitioning to a more aggressive and physical brand of football. The current campaign has continued the learning curve – Sobhi’s still waiting for his first Premier League goal – but there have been signs of progress and Stoke’s 2-2 draw with Brighton last night provided further evidence.
In terms of output, Sobhi was the quietest member of Stoke’s attacking triplet; Xherdan Shaqiri was a menace for most of the match and set up Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for the visitors’ opening goal with a gorgeous bass between Brighton’s ever-reliable centre-back pairing of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy.
But two statistics highlight firstly the quality Sobhi has – five dribbles, the most of any Stoke player – and secondly his willingness to commit to the more industrious side of the game – four interceptions, once again the most of any Stoke player.
That combination will be vital if Sobhi, who Transfermarkt value at just £4.5million, is to be a success at Stoke City and although he’s still tying to find a way to truly impact games at top flight level, the 2o-year-old’s performance against Brighton was another step in the right direction. A bit more experience and confidence, and Mark Hughes could have a real attacking threat on his hands.