Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Olic remains on Hughes' radar

Mark Hughes is starting to lay the foundations for next season
Mark Hughes is starting to lay the foundations for next season

Mark Hughes has revealed he remains in the hunt to sign Ivica Olic but reckons Stoke's best bit of business might already be done after Stephen Ireland agreed a long-term deal.

With Stoke 13 points clear of the Barclays Premier League drop zone after beating Newcastle 1-0 last weekend, Hughes can afford to turn his attention to next season and some potential transfers for the summer even as he prepares for Saturday's trip to Cardiff.

The 34-year-old striker Olic remains top of the wishlist with his contract expiring at Wolfsburg, and Hughes insisted a deal could still happen despite reports that he was set to remain in Germany.

"Ivica Olic is a player that we like and one that we are pursuing," Hughes said.

"There have been one or two reports in the media saying this, that and the other, but for as long as we see the deal as one that we could complete then we will remain in the hunt for his signature.

"He is a quality player and somebody I have met on a few occasions, and I really like him. He has played at the top level for the duration of his career, he possesses incredible pace and he is technically very, very good.

"We have to give the guy time to make the decision that he feels is right.

"It isn't dead in the water yet - he just needs time to make what will be a key decision for him."

One signature which has been sealed is that of Ireland, who initially joined the Potters on loan from Villa but has now signed a long-term deal after making the switch permanent in January.

Hughes, who got the best out of the Irishman during their time together at Manchester City, believes the 27-year-old can become a key player for Stoke in the coming years.

"I have always felt that Stephen needs stability in his life and he is going to get that here now," he said. "He has a good structure around him and he has good people working with him on a daily basis.

"There is no doubt that he is a real outstanding talent, and there is no reason why he can't enjoy the best years of his career here with us.

"I am delighted to have been able to tie him down to a long-term deal."

The acquisition of Ireland is one of several deals Hughes has done over the past few months which he believes stand Stoke in good stead going forward.

"We have added a bit more quality in the final third this season," he said. "Marko (Arnautovic) has been superb for us, as was Oussama (Assaidi) too until he picked up his injury.

"Obviously Peter Odemwingie has made an impact in the short time he has been here as well.

"You have to give a lot of credit to the lads that I inherited because they have really impressed me with their attitudes and work ethic, and of course, their obvious qualities too."

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