Stoke City has confirmed via Twitter that the club is “close to signing” 25-year-old Bayer Leverkusen defender Philipp Wollscheid.
According to the release, the club says the two clubs “shook hands” on a deal to send Wollscheid to the Britannia for the rest of the season on loan. It’s unclear whether there will be an option to buy, but reports prior to today’s club announcement suggest there will be.
The center-back has made just five league appearances while on loan at FSC Mainz this season, just two of them starts, and he will switch clubs yet again. Wollscheid has a pair of caps for the German national team to his name, the last coming in the June, 2013 4-3 loss to the United States that saw Germany nearly come back from a huge deficit. Wollscheid was a halftime substitute off the bench in that match.
Standing at 6’4″, Wollscheid slides into a back line that features Ryan Shawcross, Geoff Cameron, and Robert Huth all over 6 feet tall. According the manager Mark Hughes, the German defender will likely arrive “sometime next week.” It’s unclear when he will be available for selection.
The signing of a central defender for Stoke comes with the short-term future of the club’s defense in question. Huth could be in danger of a suspension following some explicit tweets, while there has reportedly been external interest in both Shawcross and Marc Wilson this January.
As stat guru Ted Knutson points out, Wollscheid could fit perfectly into the Stoke system with his long ball accuracy.