The transition from the Tony Pulis defensive era to Mark Hughes's more attractive style has been smooth after the Potters have managed to end the first three seasons under the former QPR and Manchester City boss in the ninth position of the Premier League – their best finish since the 1974-1975 campaign.
Stoke have easily established themselves in the Premier League comfort zone but it looks that the Potters need to go a further step in the 2016-2017 campaign to avoid a stalemate. Hughes has already create a solid core for building a promising future but some new additions to find the balance that they lacked during last campaign will be key to make that step into Europe – as their shaky start to the last season prevented them from getting a spot ahead of West Ham or Southampton.
Business so far
Hughes has already alerted that Stoke may need to wait until the end of Euro 2016 to do business. The Potters have been already linked with a number of international players but have not closed any deal yet.
What they need
The additions of Marko Arnautovic, Bojan Krkic Xherdan Shaqiri or Giannelli Imbula during the last transfer window sent a clear statement of the intentions of the club to become European contenders. They have been enough to consolidate the Potters in the top 10 but to fight with the Premier League giants and other top clubs like West Ham, Southampton or even Everton for a place in European competition they still need at least another player who can make the difference.
Hugues himself and chief executive Tony Scholes has already admitted that breaking the club record transfer once again will not be a problem after they did it in the last two windows with the signings of Shaqiri and Imbula in deals worth £12m and £18.3m respectively.
Arnautovic was the club top scorer last season after netting 12 Premier League goals but Hughes still needs a forward to improve those stats next term. Yet, while keeping the Austrian forward at the Britannia Stadium is also a must the Potter should also priorities the addition of an extra winger to cover the gap left by long-term injury Ibrahim Afellay. The manager, meanwhile, would also welcomed a top partner for Imbula in the middle of the park and another defender to improve the back-line.
Who could join
Stoke have already been linked with a number of high-profile players like Saido Berahino and Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel.
Hugues is said to be looking to add some homegrown players to his international squad and the West Brom forward is reportedly among his top priorities alongside Norwich. The Telegraph recently reported that Berahino could become Stoke's new record signing if Tony Pulis' side stick to their valuation of around £20m – after last summer they rejected a number of lucrative offers from Tottenham to part ways with the player.
The Potters, meanwhile, have also been linked with a £11m move for coveted Witsel to partner current club record signing Imbula.
Who could leave
Hughes is desperately trying to keep Arnautovic in his ranks after the Austria international has been one of his most important players since he joined the Potters for £2m from Werder Bremen in September 2013. The problem is that he has only one year left in his contract at Stoke and should he continues his good run in the Euro 2016 some bigger club could temp him to make the move.
What the manager said
Hughes has predicted that the summer at the Britannia Stadium will not be very busy but still don't rule out to break the club transfer record once again.
"There's not going to be wholesale changes. We're a strong Premier League team. We will always look to add quality when and where we can.
"We will try to do that. We've done it every year. We went in the market in January to bring in Giannelli (Imbula) and that was obviously a big statement in that window. I'm not saying we won't do similar in the summer but we've gone big already this year. We will just look and see what's available and if the right ones become available we will have a go, I'm sure."