Stoke fans are delighted that the transfer window is finally open, having watched their existing squad struggle to realise the vision Mark Hughes has for them. The manager will be hoping that the hierarchy backs him to bring in the players needed to have a meaningful crack at breaching the top 10 in the league.
There are issues throughout the squad that Hughes will be looking to address, but, realistically speaking, he will be able to attack only one or two of the positions in need of attention.
Stoke have needed a goal-scorer for a long time now, and, after a failure to find anyone in the last window, will be looking to rectify that as soon as possible. There have been three strong links in the media to German-based options: Mame Biram Diouf, Luuk de Jong and Adrian Ramos. All three players have proven scoring records, but I'm leaning towards Ramos and Diouf as being the better options in a side bereft of pace and power in the final third.
It might be that it's not a case of either/or, given Stoke's need for a replacement for Jon Walters on the right side of their attack, but, given the financial landscape, I'd expect one of these high-profile signings along with a lesser known name, possibly on loan, for the other option.
Right-back and defensive midfield are two more areas that could be improved, but just one signing is really needed, at right-back, which would allow Geoff Cameron to move into midfield. There hasn't been too much speculation for that spot, but the one name that has been linked, Michael Mancienne, has been met with a muted response. He's always been highly rated but, for me, never really lived up to the hype and seems to have all but dropped off the radar these past few years over in Germany.
Stoke have a large squad and a number of players they would consider parting ways with, and one big part of that equation will be Crystal Palace, managed by former Stoke boss Tony Pulis, who no doubt come will calling. He might have more than a passing interest in any one of Peter Crouch, Jonathan Walters, Matthew Etherington, Marc Wilson, Glenn Whelan and Thomas Sorensen.
Although Hughes has been quick to rebut the idea of Crouch moving, I get the impression he is hedging his bets having seen his target man as an important part of this transitional period. Much, of course, will depend on the players the manager brings in: If he gets the strikers he wants, I'd imagine Crouch would be allowed to leave. He's the biggest earner at the club and, with him 33 years old by the end of the window, this could be the last chance for any kind of return for a player not entirely suited to the new ways of playing despite his relative success in recent weeks.