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What will happen to Stoke’s five Champions League winners now they’re in the Championship?

Stoke have got more Champions League winner in their squad than any other Premier League team, but now they've been relegated...

The last few years must have been some of the best in Stoke’s history.

Think about it, they won promotion, showed the big boys how football is really played and made some incredible signings.

Then, sadly, after sacking Mark Hughes they suffered a rather inevitable relegation under Paul Lambert while Hughes was saving Southampton.

From the ‘pictures that can only be about relegation’ archives

PA:Press Association
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From the ‘pictures that can only be about relegation’ archives

But as they tried to become tried to become Staffordshire’s answer to Barcelona they managed to put together a squad with FIVE Champions League winners in it.

Now the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Affelay, Bojan, Darren Fletcher and Jese have to decide if they are going to emulate Pavel Nedved’s Serie B antics and help Stoke get back to the Premier League or think about the next steps in their career.

Luckily, I have looked into Dream Team’s famed crystal ball and can tell you what the future will hold.


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1 Bojan

This is basically what Lionel Messi would look like in a Stoke shirt

Reuters
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This is basically what Lionel Messi would look like in a Stoke shirt

From winning the Champions League with Barcelona to possibly lining up against Wigan Athletic and that man Will Grigg seven years later.

To be fair Bojan looks like he will be long gone from Stoke before he touches an EFL-branded football, having been out on loan at Mainz and Alaves over the last year.

After a footballing education from La Masia and Pep Guardiola it would be hard to imagine Bojan leading the line for Lambert in the Championship.

But with two years left on his contract and the manager publicly confessing his adoration, he might be stuck there.

Championship defenders beware.


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2 Ibrahim Affelay

A career that has flashed before our eyes

Getty - Contributor
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A career that has flashed before our eyes

Another who benefited from a brilliant Barca squad to walk away with a Champions League winners’ medal in 2011.

At 32 years old and with just six league appearances for Stoke it looks like the Dutchman’s options might be fairly limited.

Once upon a time Afellay was a tricky winger ready to lead the Stokelona revolution but time has been a cruel mistress.

A return to Olympiacos looks like it would fit him better than away trips to Bolton.

3 Darren Fletcher

Two men that will surely excel in the Championship

REUTERS
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Two men that will surely excel in the Championship

If ever there was a man better suited to the cut and thrust of the Championship, we haven’t seen him.

Yes he may be 34 now but he still played 27 league matches for Stoke this season and he can recreate any of the magic from the 2007/08 Champions League winning season then he will adapt to England’s second tier with ease.

Look forward to see him battling with John Terry as if we suddenly went back in time 10 years.

4 Xherdan Shaqiri

When you realise your next league game could realistically be against Shrewsbury

REUTERS
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When you realise your next league game could realistically be against Shrewsbury

If there’s one thing Shaqiri likes to do, it’s turn up win a Champions League and then eventually lose his place in the team, a la his spell at Bayern Munich from 2012-15.

The Swiss international is far too good to be turning out in the second division and if Stoke had stayed up it would have almost all been thanks to this man.

With eight league goals and seven assists the vultures are already circling with West Ham and Everton reportedly preparing bids.

Don’t worry, you will more than likely be seeing this little ball of muscle in the Prem again next season.

5 Jese Rodriguez

A long, long time ago, I can still remember

Getty - Contributor
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A long, long time ago, I can still remember

Last in, first out?

Well after winning the Champions League with Real Madrid twice, and then playing for the equally glamorous PSG, there’s no way Jese will take playing for relegated Stoke is there?

He might not have a choice.

After being given compassionate leave to look after his son and scoring only one goal for the Potters this season it doesn’t look like the offers are flying in.

He’s still only 26 and the Championship could be his rebirth – just ask Aleksandr Mitrovic.