There’s only Juan Agudelo...

Posted by James Whittaker

Rich Lam/Getty Images20-year-old Juan Agudelo will become the fourth U.S. player at Stoke City.

Stoke City will have to start adding some stars to their red and white stripes with the news of Juan Agudelo signing a pre-contract agreement with the Potters taking their MLS hardened contingent to four. While the agreement would see him join up with his new teammates at the end of his current deal in January, Stoke are trying to expedite his arrival by negotiating a modest fee which could see him leave earlier, meaning he could be available to Mark Hughes for the start of the season.

- Report: Juan Agudelo agrees with Stoke

Agudelo is a name most will not have heard of but is one that has been on Hughes' mind, having monitored the young Colombian born striker's progress since he was manager at Manchester City. Agudelo's signing would represent a sensible deal; he's highly rated, soon to be out of contract and currently only earning £4k/week. While this will no doubt rise at Stoke, it represents a big saving on domestic players of a similar caliber; on paper it's another pat on the back for the new transfer set-up at the club.

If you haven't done so already, after you've read this you will no doubt hit YouTube to try and get an idea of what kind of player he is. From what I've seen, he looks like a young Ricardo Fuller, though I'm nervous to give him such big boots to fill.

From what I can tell, Agudelo, now 20 years old, broke onto the scene in spectacular fashion and the Red Bulls youth coach who worked with him in the US U17 team, where he scored 12 goals in 16 games, had this to say:

"Juan is a very talented player with exceptional technical skills, great passing abilities and great vision. In my opinion, he is the most talented player in the entire New York Red Bulls academy."

Indeed, it wasn't long until he was promoted to the first team where then-head coach Hans Backe was quick to sing the virtues of his new found talent:

"Juan is very impressive for a 17-year-old. He shows such power. He is something special. When you look at his technical skill, you can compare him with European forwards of the same age. In terms of individual skill, he is up there with the best."

While his return at the New York Red Bulls wasn't entirely prolific, around half of his appearances were from the bench as his involvement in the first team coincided with the Designated Player signing of Thierry Henry, Backe preferring experience over promise -- not a bad player for Agudelo to learn from and one who also had this say on his understudy:

"I have been watching Juan in training for a long time now. You can see that he has a bright future but you also need to be careful because the guy is young. But I can't say anything about that because I started at 17, I went to the national team young, and I didn't turn out badly."

But it's his more recent move where he has enjoyed more of a starting role, at New England where he has made an instant impact with his movement and versatility. Given his apparent flexibility and intelligence on the pitch, his new coach has been able to use him everywhere across the attack, whether it's leading the line or out on either of the flanks. In fact, New England will be sad to lose a player who improved their goal average of 0.6 a game to 1.3. But such is the beauty of the MLS player transfer set up, and it seems it is Stoke who will take advantage of this talent at what would appear to be the perfect time in his career to push on and shine on the biggest stage of all.

That of course is a huge ask given the demands of the Premier League, but everything about this deal to me is low risk/high reward and whether he plays three games or 30 this season, he'll be learning from some of the best coaches in the country which will only improve him as a player for the Stoke City Potters!

I'm not sure that will catch on.

Vis Unita Fortior


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