BREAKING NEWS: Stoke smash transfer record to sign Giannelli Imbula
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | February 1, 2016
Stoke City have broken their transfer record to sign Belgian-born former France Under-21 midfielder Giannelli Imbula from Porto for a reported £18.3m.
Eclipsing their previous highest outlay of £12m for Switzerland wideman Xherdan Shaqiri, 23-year-old anchorman Imbula joins the Potters on a five-and-a-half year contract.
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) February 1, 2016
Stoke boss Mark Hughes said of the Imbula deal: “Giannelli is a good young player. He has great power, good ability on the ball and a great range of passing and there’s no doubt he will add to the quality that we already have at the club.
“He played against us in pre-season and although I was already aware of him, seeing him at first hand resonated with me.”
Potters get defensive dimension to midfield
Mark Hughes’ deeper-lying midfield options have been limited to Glenn Whelan and summer loan signing Marco van Ginkel this season, following the sale of Steven N’Zonzi to Sevilla.
Van Ginkel’s loan spell at the Britannia Stadium has been cut short, however, with the Dutchman embarking instead on a temporary switch to PSV Eindhoven from parent club Chelsea.
A rangy and powerful defensive midfielder, Imbula’s acquisition will give Stoke strength in depth in that area.
Coral rate the Potters as 9/1 chances to crash the Premier League’s top six, and kick on from their impressive run to the Capital One Cup quarter-finals.
Imbula, who reportedly hopes to receive clearance of changing international allegiance to play for Belgium in time to figure at Euro 2016, started just eight league games for Porto this term.
Born to Congolese parents in Vilvoorde, just northeast of Brussels, Imbula was the 2013 Ligue 2 player of the year while on the books of Guingamp and then signed for Marseille.
Each of the last three recipients of that award now ply their trade in England, with Imbula joining striking duo Diafra Sakho (West Ham United) and Jonathan Kodjia (Bristol City).
If Imbula can have the same initial impact as Senegal forward Sakho did for the Hammers in the Premier League, then he will stand the Potters in good stead.