It looks as though Celtic is no longer the only British club in the hunt for Juan Agudelo's services. The Sentinel from This is Staffordshire is reporting that Stoke City is now pursuing his signature, and that new manager Mark Hughes has used the Potters' preseason tour of the United States to advance his position.
Stoke has a proven recent record of bringing in American talent. Geoff Cameron has begun what looks to be a fairly successful Premier League career at the club, while Maurice Edu and Agudelo's friend Brek Shea are also on the books. If they bring in Agudelo, Stoke will begin to look more and more like the "Fulhamerica" sides that Fulham featured in the last decade.
Intriguingly, the article also hints at another EPL club seeking to pry Agudelo away from MLS:
"Stoke have used their presence in America these past 11 days to conduct advanced talks amid competition from at least one Premier League rival."
Most New England Revolution fans were probably holding out hope (faint hope, admittedly, but hope) that Agudelo might be convinced to stay in Foxboro if he is offered a Designated Player contract. Unfortunately, if there's really this much interest from overseas, the chances of keeping him around after his contract is up look painfully slim.
Furthermore, an unconfirmed and unsubstantiated (read: fan account) source was posted on BigSoccer stating that Stoke is hoping to conclude signing talks soon. That sounds like they're trying to get him in this window...which would take away one of the Revs' greatest offensive weapons before he ever really had a chance to shine at Gillette. If that's the case, New England fans would be right to despair.
Still, as the This is Staffordshire article points out, complications abound in a deal like this. The Revs and the league sit at the negotiating table when it comes to outgoing transfers. Whatever number is reached must appease both parties, as each gets a portion of the transfer fee when it is paid. The Revs, for their part, have always shown great reluctance in selling players, turning down transfer offers for Taylor Twellman and Shalrie Joseph in the past, among others. We can be sure that if New England doesn't get the right number, they'll block the move.
But what is the right number? Agudelo is having a pretty good season, certainly, and if not for his two injuries he would probably be looking even better. However, his contract runs out in December. If the Revs block this move on the premise that they think he can be re-signed and they're wrong, they could be letting him go for nothing. I think they would retain his MLS rights, but that's small comfort if he goes on to a long and successful career abroad. One way or another, New England will have to consider trying to get something out of him before he goes.
One possibility would be allowing Stoke to lock up his signature, but not allowing him to leave until the MLS season is over. D.C. attempted a similar situation with Andy Najar, and although Najar was allowed to leave before the agreed-upon date, it would at least give the Revs the option of holding on to a prized asset if they remain in the thick of the playoff race.
What do you think? Is Stoke a good fit for Agudelo? Should the Revs let him go if this is real, or hold out until the Winter? Let us know in the comments!