Over the summer, Joe Allen earned a role as one of Wales’ leaders as that nation went on an unexpectedly deep run at the Euros. Then, in search of more regular playing time than Liverpool could provide him, he moved on to Stoke City. He’s since started three games and come off the bench once.
At 26 years of age, it’s the kind of playing time he feels he needs, and in 277 minutes for Stoke this season he already has a goal and an assist. He also scored his first competitive goal for Wales, helping his country to ease past an overmatched Moldova 4-0 in their first World Cup 2018 qualifier.
“I think it had come to the point where I needed to move on,” said Allen. “Personally, it was pretty obvious. Any player will tell you regular football makes tonnes of difference to the way you feel out on the football pitch. It comes to a certain stage in your career you have to go seek it out.”
Many fans were sad to see Allen go, particularly after his strong showing at the Euros, which itself came off arguably his best months at Liverpool towards the end of last season. After struggling for form and fitness for years, Allen finally looked the player the club thought it was getting in 2012.
It came too late, though, to make a difference, and as much as it might have been nice to keep Allen at the club, he would have only stayed on as an option. Moving on meant the chance to become the option somewhere, and so it’s hardly surprising the midfielder felt the time was right for a change.
“Hopefully I will get more game time now, and I think that’s going to be really important for my international career as well,” Allen added. “It's pretty obvious that my type of play would not have suited Stoke years ago. But the players they have brought in made it really appealing to me.”