Stoke City have announced the signing of 31-year-old Steve Sidwell on a free transfer. The midfielder was released by Fulham after his contract expired at Craven Cottage, and the Potters have moved quickly to acquire the services of the vastly experienced central midfielder.
The club announced the signing of the former Arsenal and Chelsea man on a two-year-deal via their official Twitter account on Monday:
Stoke’s chief executive Tony Scholes was naturally delighted with the club’s acquisition, per StokeCityFC.com:
Steve was much in demand following his release by Fulham and we are delighted to have won the race to secure his signature. Mark Hughes signed him for Fulham and from talking to Steve I know how much he's looking forward to working with him again. Like Phil Bardsley, Steve brings great experience to our squad and I'm sure he will prove to be an excellent addition to our squad.
Sidwell becomes the second player to sign up at the Britannia Stadium on a free transfer this summer, after Phil Bardsley joined from Sunderland last month, per BBC Sport. City manager Mark Hughes is clearly keen on making some early signings ahead of his second year in charge, and in Sidwell he has picked up a very useful midfielder.
Is Sidwell a good signing for Stoke?
Despite being part of a Fulham side that ended up relegated last season, Sidwell enjoyed a very decent individual campaign.
He featured in every single game for the Cottagers, scoring a career high of seven goals throughout the course of the campaign. But the main strengths in his game are his defensive qualities, reflected by the fact that he averaged 3.2 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per game, more than any of his Fulham teammates, per WhoScored.com.
WhoScored.com editor Martin Laurence thinks Sidwell is an astute capture for Stoke:
Sidwell is a good signing for Stoke. Fulham's best player last season— Martin Laurence (@martinlaurence7) June 9, 2014
After Tony Pulis and his direct principles left Stoke in the summer of 2013, Hughes has tried to instil a much more fluid, eye-catching style at the Britannia Stadium. It’s something the supporters and the players bought into collectively, and a ninth-place finish represented an excellent return for the Potters.
Nonetheless, Hughes is a manager who appreciates the core values of defensive diligence and Premier League know-how, qualities that a player of Sidwell’s make-up will help preserve as Hughes looks to implement some more enterprising ideologies.
This is a player-manager combination that obviously works well together, and they are wholly familiar with the manner in which each other works. On a free transfer, the capture of Sidwell represents excellent business for City.