Football: Stoke show financial muscle by signing Swiss star Shaqiri

Swiss forward Xherdan Shaqiri celebrating after scoring during a Euro 2016 qualifying match against Lithuania on June 14.
Swiss forward Xherdan Shaqiri celebrating after scoring during a Euro 2016 qualifying match against Lithuania on June 14. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Stoke City smashed their record fee to sign Swiss forward Xherdan Shaqiri on Tuesday as, for the second day running, the Premier League's middle-ranking clubs flaunted their ever-expanding spending power.

Stoke said on their website they had paid £12 million (S$26 million) to Inter Milan for Shaqiri, formerly of Bayern Munich.

With total outlay in the summer transfer window already topping £500 million, the signing epitomises how it is no longer just the so-called big clubs who are splashing serious cash.

Not so long ago, fans of modest Stoke could never have envisaged raiding one of Europe's most famous clubs for a talent like Shaqiri, once likened to Lionel Messi when first bursting on to the scene with Swiss club Basel.

But with the Premier League's new £5.14 billion domestic TV contract kicking in from next season, not to mention further riches pumped in by overseas TV deals, previously unfashionable clubs are now in the market for household names.

On Monday, West Bromwich Albion also broke their club record, paying £12 million to Zenit St Petersburg for Venezuela striker Salomon Rondon while the likes of Swansea City and Crystal Palace have also made eye-catching signings.

Shaqiri, who has signed a five-year deal, could make his debut at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday and Stoke manager Mark Hughes said he was excited to land such a high-quality player.

Said Hughes: "He's a dynamic and explosive player who will bring something different to the group and at the age of 23 he still has a great deal of potential.

"In the chats I've had with him it's obvious that he's excited about playing in the Premier League and showing what he's capable of."

Shaqiri has scored 17 goals in 46 appearances for Switzerland, including one memorable left-foot thunderbolt against England in a Euro 2012 qualifier in 2010.

He also scored a hat-trick in last year's World Cup against Honduras, which featured another, equally spectacular left-foot rocket.

Stoke have long been associated with a physical, typically English style of play but since taking over from Tony Pulis, Hughes has been clearly trying to build a less prosaic, more expansive team.

They also have former Barcelona youngster Bojan Krkic in their ranks while another former Barca player, Dutch international winger Ibrahim Afellay, signed a two-year contract in the close season.