Will Stoke’s new signings propel them further up the league?

The Welshman has steered the Potters to back-to-back finishes of ninth but he feels investing in the right calibre of player this summer will help Stoke achieve their goal of European football.

Hughes has been active in the market already this summer – with six new faces at the Britannia Stadium by early July.

It looks like Hughes is determined to change the general perception of Stoke as a long-ball team. A mixture of youth an experience has found its way to Stoke this summer.

With Asmir Begovic choosing to play deputy to Thibaut Courtois at Stamford Bridge, Hughes chose veteran Shay Given along with 23-year-old Dane Jakob Haugaard as replacement.

Republic of Ireland international Given showed in Aston Villa’s FA Cup run last season that, even at 39, he remains a reliable stopper.

Having had offers from elsewhere it seems reasonable to assume Given has been granted assurances of first-team football and his young understudy will benefit from being around one of the most consistent goalkeepers of the Premier League era.

Former England international Glen Johnson chose the Britannia having left Liverpool, insisting Stoke are evolving into “a real footballing team” after years of being pigeon-holed.

At 30, Johnson should have plenty to offer Stoke and Hughes also plundered his former club Chelsea for promising midfielder Netherlands midfielder Marco van Ginkel – a player the manager feels will bring energy to the midfield.

Twice-capped Germany international Philipp Wollscheid comes in from Bayer Leverkusen, the centre-back seemingly a long-term replacement for the departed Robert Huth.

Also arriving from the Bundesliga is striker Joselu, with Hughes choosing to pay Hannover the best part of £6million for the 25-year-old frontman.

It is a cosmopolitan and intriguing mixture that Hughes has brought in.

The former Manchester City boss insists the club are determined to take things up a level by attracting top players and with a club-record bid of £12million having been agreed for Switzerland midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, before talks broke down, Hughes is true to his word.

It is unlikely that Hughes is finished. There should be more arrivals at the Britannia between now and the end of August.

Will it be enough to push Stoke to another level? Unfortunately for Hughes’s ambition, it seems unlikely that Stoke can break the cycle of just creeping into the top 10.

Last season, Swansea in eighth were just two points ahead but there was a gap of six points to Southampton. Ronald Koeman’s Saints rather limped over the finish line after a strong start.

With the top four from last season along with Liverpool and Tottenham unlikely to stagnate, Stoke are left with little in the way of wriggle room for improvement.

Koeman will hope to keep Southampton on an even keel while in the rear view mirror Alan Pardew and Crystal Palace are looming, adding quality players like Yohan Cabaye to their mix.

Everton must surely improve on a fairly dreadful season last time around while West Ham also suffered a drastic decline in the second half of last season and have the impetus of a new manager at the Boleyn Ground.

Hughes is awake to the threat, acknowledging that many clubs are investing with a record new TV deal coming into effect from next season.

He says Stoke are investing in the hope that they can push forward again but also safe in the knowledge that they cannot sit still just to maintain the status quo.

European football via the Premier League looks a big ask right now, but with six more weeks to expand his squad, Hughes will not rest easy and he could have enough at his disposal to fashion a cup run next season.