For once things are looking quite promising in North Staffordshire, we finally seem to have solved the problem in the dugout with Michael O'Neill - who arguably did the best job of any manager in the Championship post-Christmas. However, there is still undoubtedly room for improvement in the squad, and Stoke might have to look at bringing in a few new players if they want to get promoted.
There are some difficulties when it comes to outlining potential transfers, manager Michael O'Neill has made it clear that Stoke have some concerns related to FFP. As such, the Potters four signings that have been made so far this window- Morgan Fox, James Chester, Steven Fletcher, and John Obi Mikel- have all been free transfers. However, this doesn't mean that Stoke can't sign quality players in the window, as there are bargains still to be had.
The Nigerian right winger currently playing at QPR could represent great value in a real problem area for Stoke. Tom Ince has consistently underperformed for us this season and is far from a fan favorite thanks to his notoriously lazy work rate. Osayi-Samuel scored five and provided nine assists in the Championship last year and would add some much-needed creativity and trickery on the right flank. Osayi-Samuel has been marked for a move this summer, and after a proposed £4.7 million move to Club Brugge broke down, Stoke should swoop in for the player.
Several clubs will be looking towards recently relegated Wigan Athletic to bolster their squads for the upcoming season. The Latics hit some financial trouble - which led to a points deduction and ultimately their relegation from the second tier. Right-back Nathan Byrne could provide good value for Stoke either as a starter or cover for Tommy Smith, who has been inconsistent at times this season. The Wigan defender registered eight assists last season, which would be a fantastic addition to the team.
Stoke are looking for youth in the transfer market this year and Oxford United's Cameron Brannagan would make a promising addition to the squad. The 24-year-old sent Oxford to the playoff final with his penalty in the semi-final shootout against Portsmouth and has a lot to offer to a Championship club.
Stoke arguably have enough midfielders - especially with the addition of John Obi Mikel - who will play a deeper role in the lineup. However, with Joe Allen sidelined by injuries and Nick Powell also suffering from injuries last season, Brannagan's addition could free up space for Sam Clucas to play further forward in the side. The versatile midfielder is a talented passer - registering 8 assists last season, and would provide creativity from central midfield alongside Mikel.
Now, this is an intriguing one. Jack Butland has been linked with a move away from The Potters, after a difficult few years between the sticks and this could be a chance to get him off the wage bill. As such, Stoke have been linked with a swap deal for the Southampton keeper.
It's unclear to me whether Gunn would be an upgrade over Butland, but given that he's 24 he could develop into a good replacement or backup to Adam Davies next season. If I were Stoke this is a move I would be making.