Exactly half a season after Newcastle's return to the top flight in 2010, the club executed a complete overhaul of their squad with money procured from sales of their major English players in Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Andy Carroll.
To obtain affordable quality with their transfer revenue, they turned to foreign markets. Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, and Demba Papiss Cisse, and Davide Santon were acquired from all over Europe, while Senegalese Demba Ba was stolen from West Ham with the help of a relegation release clause.
Following the success of these signings, Newcastle focused their scouting strategy on a single market in Ligue 1. During the 2012-13 season, they acquired Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko, both of whom have provided necessary cover for injured starters that have led to Newcastle's slump for the first half of the season.
Newcastle targeting a single market in France and expanding their contacts in one foreign league has overall led to some very reasonable purchases of quality talent in an otherwise inflated transfer market.
This is made easier simply by competing in the English Premier League. For most players in the world, England is the destination for the heights of their careers. Benefiting from having the largest television exposure in the world, and several world renown teams within its ranks, England offers action-packed football and the least perceivable amount of foul stoppage in games. Thus, the demand to move to England is more often stronger on the side of the player, and not on the team, giving the team the bargaining power.
American players are no exception to this rule, and their willingness to play at a higher level is leading to cheap, but quality imports from the MLS to England. Stoke is taking advantage of this interest, and applying Newcastle's strategy to target one market, increase their network, and obtain a preferred pipeline of talent.
The Sun quoted Tony Pulis as stating: "America is a place where, at a good age, you can get some raw material given the opportunity. We've got a scout over there who knows the league very well and we might add another one next year."
Explaining Stoke's admiration of Newcastle's focused scouting strategy, he further noted: "Newcastle have done fantastic with their French players and we're trying to find a market that suits us."
Stoke City turning its attention to America has paid dividends as Geoff Cameron has been a consistent defensive presence for Stoke City this season. While Maurice Edu has failed to make the same impact, the addition of young winger Brek Shea has been a transfer well-received by supporters due to his international experience, young age, as well as a physicality that matches the Stoke City's playing style.
In this exciting trend for all supporters involved, it will be interesting to see whether the mid-table side can benefit from the MLS in the same way that Newcastle has with its French mercenaries.
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