Stoke City are starting to thrive in the Premier League

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Many football fans were shocked this week following the news that Stoke City had agreed a club record fee of around £12million with Inter Milan for midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri.

Shaqiri, who just two seasons ago was playing regularly for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, looks almost certain to be playing his football at the Britannia Stadium for the upcoming season.

This deal shows just how far Stoke have come under Mark Hughes, who will be looking to further cement Stoke City in to the Premier League's top ten.

The 2013/14 season saw Stoke City, under new manager Mark Hughes, finish in their highest Premier League position in the club's history in ninth place. The following season, the Potters matched that feat, something that delighted Stoke fans who can now say their club are a top ten club in the Premier League.

Over the past two seasons, Hughes has revitalised the club, bringing in exciting new players whilst also dispelling the common opinion that Stoke are a long-ball team.

Marquee signings

Last season we saw Stoke sign Bojan Krkic from Barcelona. The transfer received a similar reaction to the news that Shaqiri is poised to sign amongst Stoke fans.

Bojan was a revelation for Stoke last season, shining in the majority of matches he played in before an unfortunate cruciate knee ligament injury ruled the talented Spaniard out of action for six months.

With Bojan hoping to be fit and fresh for Stoke's opening game of the season at home to Liverpool on August 8, Potters fans will be praying that the deal of Shaqiri does go through, allowing two of Europe's most exciting prospects to play in the same side.

Shaqiri and Bojan are both exciting players with energy and pace in abundance. They can both create something out of nothing and if the club can pull off this record transfer for Shaqiri, there is no reason as to why Stoke can't challenge for a Europa League place.

They will perhaps be interested in bringing in some more fresh faces, after already signing striker Joselu from Hannover 96 for £5.75million.

Keeping their best players

For Stoke to carry on progressing, they will very much like to hold on to their strongest players. Stoke's Player of the Year Steven N'Zonzi is one name who has been linked with a move away from the club with suitors looking to take advantage of the rumours that the highly-rated midfielder wants to leave.

After already spending, and looking to spend more, perhaps Stoke will have to sell in order to balance their books. Stoke fans will be hoping N'Zonzi stays at the club, however, with the exciting prospect of Shaqiri signing, they may be more accepting to Hughes and the Stoke board for letting one of their best players leave.

Changing the tune

Stoke finished the 2014/15 season on an incredible high after thrashing Liverpool 6-1 on the last day of the season and will be hoping to continue where they left off when they meet again in August.

Hughes has put together a strong side who no team looks forward to playing. They're still a physically strong unit, just like they were under Tony Pulis for many years but they have adopted a new style of play.

They've now changed their style to a more patient passing game, building up possession until they see a chance developing.

Hughes had a point to prove after his nightmare reign at QPR which ended in 2012, and he has done just that with a fantastic two seasons as the manager of Stoke City.

If Stoke manage to complete the signing of Xherdan Shaqiri, it will be the biggest sign yet that they are there to not only survive in the Premier League, but to thrive in it.

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Stoke City
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