Football is a game of surprises these days, and that can be highlighted any better than when Leicester City strolled to Premier League victory last season.
There really is a renewed sense of confidence buzzing around every single training field in England at the moment with the majority of teams fancying an upset.
And one side that really could prove to be a surprise package next season is Stoke City, who added Joe Allen to their ranks this week.
For a man that was struggling to get in the Liverpool side last season, the former Swansea midfielder has enjoyed a recent up-turn in fortunes thanks to a certain Euro 2016 campaign.
Allen helped his fellow Dragons roar into the semi-finals of the tournament, where they were eventually undone by eventual winners Portugal. No mean feat especially considering Joe Allen was one of the individuals singled out for praise in a side many thought would be dominated by Gareth Bale. It’s a funny old game.
But regardless of Bale and all the other stars on the pitch out in France it was Allen that really shone at the heart of the Wales midfield, making them a fluid, exciting team to watch.
He was quite simply superb during Wales’ 3-1 humbling of much-fancied Belgium and it was the performance many Liverpool fans had been waiting for. But still, it seemed it wasn’t enough and the club were happy to let him leave for a fee rumoured to be in the region of £13million. In honesty, this seemed a little strange but still, Jurgen Klopp hasn’t hesitated in bringing his own signings into Anfield and it was only natural to see some old faces leave.
We’ve seen plenty of potential in this Stoke City side for a few seasons now but it seems that this really could be their year. In Joe Allen they have a complete and astute midfielder who is able to bring graft and good passing ability to the Potters’ team. Couple that with Gianelli Imbula’s guile and power, they really could be a force to be reckoned with next season.
They already have some hugely classy players in Xherdan Shaquiri, Bojan Krkic and Ibrahim Afellay in their ranks, and you can really imagine that Joe Allen will be the glue in this Stoke team, the player that holds it all together.
In Mark Hughes they have a well-liked and perhaps more importantly, well-respected manager who seems to have everyone at the Britannia singing off the same hymn sheet. There is little doubt the Potters will be aiming come the start of the season. There is little reason why this strong Stoke side shouldn’t be aiming for the top eight, perhaps even the top six.
The upcoming season is gearing up extremely nicely for the Potters and they really could be this season’s surprise package.