At the club since 2013, Stoke’s Julien Ngoy has been on the cusp of making the first-team for quite some time now without ever really breaking through.

The 21-year-old has made seven appearances for the club, all from the bench, and appeared in the dugout a few other times, but the latest crop of managers have never allowed him to get regular game time.

That’s why, this season, instead of playing reserves football with the U23s, the young Belgian decided he wanted to go on loan somewhere to feature with a first-team and get some experience under his belt.

Given the chance to return to his home country, the forward went against that option, instead preferring to go to Switzerland with Grasshopper Zurich.

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Speaking to DH in Belgium, he explained why he did so: “I told myself that it was best to be away from everything I know. To not be close to my mates in Belgium and to only think about football. Zurich is a really quiet town and very nice. It’s what I needed.”

For Stoke fans who wished to see the youngster break through, there is some bad news, as there is a clause to buy him permanently in the loan, but he doesn’t know what will happen with that yet.

He said: “I don’t think it’s that expensive. I came here to really launch my career with the pros. It’s still too soon to know where I’ll play next year, but I’m not excluding prolonging my stay with Grasshopper. Even if it’s been a bit more difficult recently (second from bottom), they remain one of the big names of Swiss football.”

Making his debut in early September, the Stoke loanee has six appearances under his belt so far this season, but has yet to find the back of the net.