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Stoke wanted Lukaku; Martinez hoping Miyaichi returns next season

Tony Pulis has revealed that Stoke City were one of many clubs interested in signing Romelu Lukaku on loan before the Belgian joined West Bromwich Albion.

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis has revealed the Potters were one of many clubs interested in signing Romelu Lukaku on loan before the Chelsea striker joined West Bromwich Albion, Sky Sports understands.

Lukaku, 19, has netted 13 league goals for Albion this season, and is expected to return to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

According to Pulis, the connections of West Brom boss Steve Clarke helped him bring the 19-year-old striker to The Hawthorns.

“I spoke to Chelsea first-team coach Steve Holland,” said Pulis ahead of the Potters’ clash with the Baggies on Saturday. “He was very complimentary about Romelu and we wanted him.

“Unfortunately, there were plenty of other people who knew about him, too. I think West Ham and Fulham were in there.

“But Steve got him on loan because of his connection with Chelsea.

“Romelu’s a good signing and has got better as the season’s gone on.”

The Belgium international’s Chelsea counterpart Fernando Torres has been linked with a summer exit from West London, with Russian Premier League moneybags Anzhi Makhachkala and former club Atletico Madrid reportedly interested in the Spaniard.

Meanwhile, January arrival Demba Ba has cooled off considerably since opening his Chelsea account with a flurry of goals, but his lack of production of late is surely due to the fact that Rafa Benitez has opted to go with the out-of-sorts Torres to lead the line for the Blues.

Ba and Torres have combined for nine Premier League goals in 35 appearances, 28 starts, for the Blues this season.

Martinez hoping Miyaichi returns next season

Wigan Athletic boss Roberto Martinez wants on-loan Arsenal winger Ryo Miyaichi to return to the DW Stadium next season, Sky Sports reports.

Miyaichi, 20, is due to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery following an ankle injury suffered in the Latics’ win over Everton in the FA Cup last week.

The Japan international has had an injury-ridden campaign at the DW Stadium this season, making just seven competitive appearances for Wigan.

Nonetheless, the Wigan manager wants the Japanese winger back on loan next season.

“We will have to speak with Arsenal and we need to assess and make sure they are happy with the progression of the player,” said Martinez.

“Ryo is a footballer that we really admire and has an incredible future in front of him so if we could work with him for a longer period we would be very happy to do that.”

Miyaichi might find playing time hard to come by at the Emirates Stadium next term, with Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott ahead of the 20-year-old in the pecking order.

Moreover, Germany Under-17 international Serge Gnabry is also an upcoming sensation in North London.

In sum, a return to Wigan Athletic might just be in Miyaichi’s best interest.

Sat 16 March, 2013
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