No sooner had I uttered the words "Stoke's front line desperately needs pace," then the transfer gods went to work and delivered exactly that in the shape of winger Oussama Assaidi, who arrives on a season-long loan from Liverpool.
Assaidi isn’t exactly a household name to most, so interest in him, reported at the weekend, saw Stoke fans the world over flocking to their respective bibles of all things football, namely YouTube, Football Manager and the FIFA 13 video game.
I can report with great confidence that the new recruit is a 25-year-old right-footed, left-sided attacker who stands at a Stoke-defying 5-foot-10. He is predominantly right-footed (though has a 4-star weak foot -- thanks FIFA 13) and has a decent work rate in both attack and defence.
Watching YouTube, I can tell you that he looks particularly fetching in his training bib when he warms up for Liverpool, and from the match footage of his limited appearances for the Koppites and his time at Heerenveen he looks a talent indeed. It is, however, important to remember this is a medium that made Vincent Pericard look a world-beater so back to FIFA 13 it is.
He has a lovely shiny gold card on FIFA's Ultimate Team game mode (that has to be a good sign?) and his attributes on paper (or XBOX) give plenty of reason for the fans to be giddy.
He has been given a respectable 78/100 overall and his pros and cons attribute wise are as follows;
Ball Control: 80
Shot Power: 76
An exciting prospect, I’m sure you will agree -- that burst of pace so important to get off the shoulder of the opposition defence and that skill to get by any who may still be in front of you, should they not have fled into the stands at the prospect of facing such a talent.
Standing Tackle: 38
Sliding Tackle: 24
It would appear this excitement and flair could come at a cost (about 1200 FUT Coins), though as his ability to help out when on the back foot (despite his Medium Defence Work rate) could come unstuck with his lack of defensive technique. Still, I could beat a fly in a scrap, but having one buzzing around my head doesn’t half put me off my game. With his speed, Assaidi can only prove to be such a distraction if indeed he is tasked with getting involved in that part of the pitch.
It’s the pros we’re bothered about though, having had five years of worrying about all those boring, hard-working stats (largely red for this player). As fans, we’re excited by our new arrival being given such traits and specialties of flair, acrobat and dribbler. But if you really want to impress the kids, just tell them that Stoke are signing a player who has five stars for skill. This basically means at the hands of a 14-year-old his virtual form will be the vehicle to reduce a grown man (me) to tears as he comes to term with the fact this 78-rated player can get past the top defenders with his flicks, tricks and swivels-a-plenty.
Back in the real world, Assaidi is exactly the kind of player the side has been crying out for. Hopefully, he is the first of a few to arrive who can really make the new manager Mark Hughes' system tick. I for one can’t wait for a player to get me off my backside in excitement and anticipation, something I don’t think we as fans have had since the days of the mercurial Jamaican Ricardo Fuller.
In all seriousness, while this article is largely tongue-in-cheek, I do think it tells us something quite important -- that I should get out more. . . .
Vis Unita Fortior