OPINION: Four reasons why Ramadan will thrive at Stoke this season
KingFut’s Malek Shafei believes Egyptian prodigy Ramadan Sobhi will thrive on the left flank for Stoke City, in the 2017/18 campaign.
Playing behind arguably one of the most explosive wing duos in the Premier League in Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri, it would always be hard for a youngster to get much playing time. Nevertheless, Ramadan Sobhi still managed 17 PL appearances, impressing Mark Hughes and fans alike with outstanding performances against several clubs, including Manchester City and Swansea City.
Throughout the season, Sobhi played behind Arnautovic in the Stoke rotation, but as the Austrian has left Stoke to play at West Ham for 34 million pounds, there is an opportunity for the Pharaoh to become a regular starter for the Potters and even to thrive in the Premier League.
Support From The Manager
Hughes has Sobhi in his plans for the future: “Ramadan’s had a breakthrough season and he’s very much in my thoughts,” Hughes told Stoke Sentinel.
“He will get more game time clearly because his talent deserves that. But we’re trying to get better year on year and you want to keep your best players to do that. He now needs to focus on football and getting ready for the season. He’s shown good signs and flashes once again, but there is more to come from him, we know,” Hughes enthused.
No More Rivalry
It was a lack of playing time that halted his progression during the beginning of his Stoke career. But after a fantastic AFCON run with Egypt, Mark Hughes played him more times in a few months than he had all season, starting him in 8 games out of 11. Sobhi growing number of minutes towards the end of the season, in addition to the departure of his position rival Arnautovic, signal for the Egyptian to have a more definitive role next season. With Sobhi being the only “out and out” left winger for Stoke, he should have no real trouble becoming a consistent member of the starting XI.
During his limited playtime last season, Ramadan’s flashes of skill showed many English fans why he is affectionately known as ‘Ramadona’ to Egyptian spectators. Possessing the pace to burst past opposing fullbacks, and having excellent strength to outmuscle opposition on both offense and defense are great athletic attributes that should allow him to thrive in the Premier League. He is also a good passer, having the 17th highest passing accuracy out of wingers in the PL this past season.
“He is a player who likes to provide assists more than he enjoys scoring goals,” says his agent Nader Shawky. He also averaged 0.5 key passes per game. Give him more minutes, and more time to develop chemistry with his teammates, we can see his key passes double, if not triple, and see him get many assists. And while his shooting still needs some work, his strength, passing, and pace attributes are superb and on the level of some other great PL wingers.
A Better Stoke Team
Stoke’s 2016-2017 season was arguably disappointing after they finished in 13th place, a low finish considering they finished 9th place in the previous three seasons. Stoke are covered with the departure of Marko Arnautovic, as Ramadan can step up. Most notably, the Potters acquired Kurt Zouma on a season long loan from Chelsea, this will strengthen their defense significantly as centre-back was a position where they were arguably weak in the past campaign. The funds from selling the Austrian will likely contribute to reinforcing the team in other areas such as midfield, making the team even stronger in a push for the top 10.
The departure of Marko Arnautovic has really opened the doors for Ramadan Sobhi to thrive at Stoke City. Sobhi is now expected to be a big part of Mark Hughes’ offense as a regular in the starting XI at left winger. And with his skills continuing to improve, we might just see why ‘Ramadona’ is rated so highly by many fans.
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