Stoke hope to fast-track Juan Agudelo move

Posted by Marc Stein

Paul Frederiksen/USA TODAY SportsJuan Agudelo: Premier League-bound sooner than expected?

New England Revolution striker Juan Agudelo is scheduled to join Stoke City on Jan. 1 after signing a pre-contract with the Premier League club earlier this month, but sources close to the situation say that the Potters actually want Agudelo now.

As in: Before the international transfer window closes Sept. 2. But sources tell ESPN FC that MLS officials and the Revolution have rejected two bids from Stoke aimed at making the transfer official immediately.

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The latest bid, according to one source with knowledge of the talks, was valued in the $750,000 range.

Sources say that New England is determined to keep Agudelo for the rest of the MLS season as it tries to hang onto a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. But Agudelo's MLS contract expires at season's end, meaning that the Revolution will lose him without compensation if no deal is struck in the next four days.

Whether Stoke is willing to make a third bid before the transfer window closes remains to be seen, but there's likely a limit to how much they're willing to pay for a player scheduled to join the club for free in four months.

Whenever the 20-year-old finally does make it to England, Agudelo will join U.S. national team stalwarts Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea and Maurice Edu as Americans on Stoke's books.

Earlier this month, when it was announced that the Potters had signed Agudelo to the pre-contract, Stoke manager Mark Hughes said: "We've put a lot of work into this deal and I am delighted that we have managed to get the deal over the line. It’s a good deal for us, because he is a very good young player who boasts a lot of talent as well as a lot of potential, too.

"I've known of him for a couple of years now. He burst onto the scene for the United States at the age of 17 and everybody has paid attention to him since. I have kept my eye on him for the last 18 months, and thankfully we were in a position where we were able to pull this deal off."

Agudelo has scored five goals in seven MLS matches since the Revolution acquired him in a trade with Chivas USA, including an audacious back-heeled lob in a 2-0 victory over Chicago after a two-month injury absence. New England recently signed veteran striker Charlie Davies on loan from Denmark’s Randers FC as a replacement but has likewise made it clear, sources say, that it hopes to hang onto Agudelo for the rest of the season.

Kenwyne Jones hit a hat-trick for Stoke on Wednesday night in a Capital One Cup victory over Walsall, but it's no secret in Premiership circles that Hughes has been hoping to add to his attacking options for some time.

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