Stoke start Assaidi talks
Published 02/05/2014 | 18:42
Stoke have entered tentative talks with Liverpool over the permanent signing of winger Oussama Assaidi.
Potters boss Mark Hughes was keen to stress the dialogue is at a very early stage but he is hopeful of keeping the Moroccan at the Britannia Stadium after a successful season-long loan.
Assaidi has scored four goals in 24 appearances this season, and it would have been more had he not missed two months with a knee ligament injury.
The 25-year-old joined Liverpool in the summer of 2012 from Dutch club Heerenveen and made 12 appearances for the Reds last season.
Hughes said: " We like Ossie and if we could come to an arrangement with Liverpool we would like to bring him here.
"He's a valuable player and I think Liverpool recognise that. I think there's been tentative enquiries but nothing concrete yet.
"He's done really well here. It's certainly helped him and Ossie's certainly helped us.
"He's got good friends here. He's got a good relationship with Marko Arnautovic - they make a nice couple! Those things are important to players. If they're happy in an environment then that can help if you're trying to bring them to a club."
Assaidi is Stoke's only doubt for Saturday's clash with Fulham after taking a bang to his knee in training while captain Ryan Shawcross sits out the match through suspension.
The defender had played every minute of every Premier League this season until he was shown a red card against Tottenham last weekend.
Shawcross is likely to be replaced by Spaniard Marc Muniesa, who deputised for the final 38 minutes against Spurs.
Fulham will arrive at the Britannia Stadium in desperate need of points and defeat on Saturday would relegate Hughes' former club if Sunderland win at Manchester United.
The Welshman insists that will not be on his mind, saying: "W e want to get another three points.
"We were disappointed last week because we merited more than we got.
"We've got an opportunity against Fulham to match our biggest ever points total in the Premier League. That's our motivation, it's not about beating a team and making them go out of the league.
"It's about us doing out business and Fulham have to do theirs."
Hughes spent a season in charge of the Cottagers in 2010-11 but it came to an acrimonious end when he resigned.
Then owner Mohamed Al-Fayed was highly critical of Hughes, and the former striker accepts he may have walked out too soon.
Hughes said: "At the time I just felt I couldn't commit to a further three years.
"There was going to be a change of ownership, which has taken place now, and I was aware of that. That affected my position at Manchester City so I didn't really want to go through that situation again. "
Hughes, meanwhile, must weigh up whether to give Matthew Etherington a final appearance at the Britannia Stadium.
The winger will not be offered a new contract when his current one expires this summer, bringing his five-and-a-half-year spell to an end.
Felix Magath confesses to being "afraid" as Fulham's increasingly desperate quest to secure another season in the Barclays Premier League reaches a critical point.
While Magath is convinced victories over Stoke and at home against Crystal Palace the following weekend will result in survival, he is still racked by nerves.
The veteran German manager has never experienced relegation during his 19-year coaching career and knows Fulham are close to ending that proud record.
"For me, it (keeping Fulham in the Premier League) would be my most successful achievement," the Cottagers boss said.
"I have never been relegated and I'm a bit afraid of the situation, I don't know how it feels to be relegated. I am afraid.
"I am always nervous, without nerves you can not bring 100 per cent.
"The mental side is always the most important thing - the players know how to kick, mentality is what we are fighting for."
Fulham are one point adrift of safety with two matches remaining and Magath accepts only two victories will clinch a 14th successive Premier League season.
"I still believe two wins will be enough," he said
"There is no doubt, we need three points to have the chance to not be relegated. That is the situation.
"We know Stoke are a very good team at home, but we are confident that we have developed in the last few weeks and showed against Hull last weekend that we are able to play good games.
"Away from home we won at Aston Villa and we are confident we can manage it.
"The atmosphere is very good and the players want to show people we are still alive."
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