Stoke seem insistent on paying through the nose to land Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen despite the glaring need to focus recruitment efforts on other areas of the pitch.
The Anfield club have reportedly accepted a bid of £13m for the 26-year-old (named in UEFA’s Euro 2016 team of the tournament), which would make him the second most expensive player in Potters history.
Yet lavishing such a fee on a player known primarily for his ability to diligently knit play together in unspectacular fashion seems illogical given the Staffordshire side’s issues in both defence and attack.
Stoke managed to finish ninth in last season’s Premier League, despite scoring just twice more than relegated Norwich and only four other teams having a more regrettable goal difference.
Ryan Shawcross, for so long the side’s most accomplished defender struggled to assert himself last term, with recurrent back trouble keeping out of 16 league games.
Mark Hughes’ men actually won 43% of the 23 games their captain didn’t start in 2015/16, as opposed to 35% of the 23 he didn’t. They also lost 30% of fixtures in which he didn’t make the XI as opposed to 43% of those in which he was present.
To blame their poorer results with him in the line up last term on his injuries, or the departures of long-term teammates Asmir Begovic and Steven Nzonzi may be overly simplistic.
However, with question marks over his form and fitness, targeting a centre-half truly capable of taking over his leadership role is arguably of greater priority than bagging the Welsh Xavi.
Likewise sourcing a goalscorer capable of making the most of the opportunities offered by a supporting cast of Xherdan Shaquiri, Bojan and Marko Arnautovic.
Jonathan Walters, Mame Biram Diouf and Joselu took it in turns to audition for the role last term, with none capable of bagging more than five times or making 11 starts as the centre-forward.
In 2016/17, as in 2015/16, Stoke will be plenty of punters’ idea of a shrewd outsider in the top-six finish betting at 14/1, but to seriously threaten landing the odds they will need to bolster their roster at both ends in the pitch, rather than focusing on the middle.