Stoke City finished the 2021-22 EFL Championship season in 14th position on the points table, which is exactly the same as where they finished in the previous campaign as well. Inconsistency was the main reason the Potters were restricted to the bottom half of the EFL Championship standings. Ahead of the start of the 2022-23 season, the Potters need to strengthen their squad, particularly in midfield, if they are to challenge for a finish in the top half of the table. According to reports, Stoke City have confirmed the signing of Josh Laurent on a free transfer from Reading, and the midfielder will sign a three-year contract with the Potters.
Laurent featured for Reading in 41 games out of the 46 in the 2021-22 EFL Championship season. In fact, Laurent ranked number one in the Royals’ squad for minutes played this season, with 3,642 to his name. The 27-year-old scored twice and assisted four times from the central midfield. This brought his goal contribution to one every 607 minutes. The Leytonstone-born player was often stationed in the midfield, and his role was to feed the ball to the more creative players when in possession and to organize the midfield when his team was not in possession.
Laurent’s duels-winning locations are shown above. He won more 50/50s and ground-based defending duels and far fewer aerial duels despite his height of 188 cm. Being a midfielder, the 27-year-old Englishman emerged victorious in duels almost everywhere but did not win much in the opponents’ penalty box. Typically, after Laurent won these duels, he sparked counterattacks for the Royals. Overall, the Leytonstone-born midfielder completed 57 interceptions and won 43 tackles during his time on the pitch.
Laurent’s xT map, xT timeline and pass sonar are shown in the above viz. The 27-year-old midfielder created an average xT score of around 0.5, occasionally exceeding 1.0. Unsurprisingly, most of this came in the final third, but it started from midfield. Though Laurent generated some threat in the final third, he did not do so inside the penalty area of the opposition. The majority of the threat produced by Laurent came from simple forward passes.
Stoke City have been in search of stability in the midfield in addition to a little bit of creativity. The Potters have done well to recruit a player of this profile in the form of Josh Laurent.