Transfer deadline day saw ex-Barcelona and Chelsea midfielder Eidur Gudjohnsen seal a one year contract with Stoke City. Potter’s boss Tony Pulis has been busy in the transfer window, building an exciting project at the Brittania Stadium bringing in Jermaine Pennant, Marc Wilson and Kenwyne Jones. However, the signing of Eidur Gudjohnsen is the most high-profile move of the lot and could prove lucrative in Stoke’s ambition to establish themselves as a Premier League mainstay.
Not to put down a club of Stoke’s stature but I was surprised other Premier League teams declined to bid for the Icelander. He is a player with a great pedigree in the Premier League having made his name at Chelsea where he is idolised by the Stamford Bridge faithful.
He joined Chelsea from Bolton Wanderers in 2000 and spent 6 years at the Bridge where he was to become a firm fans’ favourite. He formed a deadly partnership with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, scoring 23 goals in the 2001-2002 season. Not just an out-and-out goalscorer, Gudjohnsen also has technique, skill and vision in abundance which has led to him being cast in his present role as an attacking midfielder.
Gudjohnsen first found himself playing as an attacking midfielder under Jose Mourinho after competition for places upfront at Chelsea were limiting Gudjohnsen’s chances of starting for the Blues. Mourinho knew that Gudjohnsen was too good a player to leave out of the team completely and began to mould the striker to play in a deeper midfield role; a role which Gudjohnsen took to with relish.
The former striker was a revelation in midfield contributing 60 assists in his 6 year spell in West London. However, competition for first team places became fierce at Chelsea and Gudjohnsen moved to Spain and signed for Spanish giants Barcelona.
Gudjohnsen had his ups and downs at the Camp Nou but his quality as a player was never in doubt. He failed to establish himself as a first team regular under Frank Rijkaard or Pep Guardiola despite a number of impressive performances and was signed by Monaco at the beginning of last season. His stint in the French principality was not to be a happy one as Gudjohnsen struggled for form but Harry Redknapp was savvy to Gudjohnsen’s talents and brought him to White Hart Lane on loan for the second half of last season.
It was probably when Gudjohnsen was on loan at Tottenham that Tony Pulis first took notice of the Icelander as it was he who inspired Tottenham to a 2-1 win against Stoke at the tail-end of last season. Gudjohnsen was in inspired form, scoring Spur’s opening goal with a consummate left foot finish after he was played in by Peter Crouch. His movement and was a nightmare all game for the Stoke defence and it was to prove decisive as Gudjohnsen unselfishly dummied a cross from the left to allow Nico Kranjar to smash in the winner for Tottenham.
Now that Gudjohnsen has signed for Stoke, it will be interesting to see whether his arrival will signal a change in philosophy for manager Tony Pulis. His rugged, direct style of football has been hugely successful for the Potters to date but with players such as Tuncay and Gudjohnsen, Pulis certainly has the players to play a more progressive brand of football should he so please.
Gudjohnsen will need time to get to match fitness after missing preseason and has the two week international break before Stoke’s match against Aston Villa to do so. But once he does get there, I have no doubt that Gudjohnsen will prove to be a great addition to the Stoke team.
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