Stoke City made a splash less than an hour before the January transfer window slammed shut.
Giannelli Imbula, 23, joined from FC Porto for $26 million, as the defensive midfielder is the most expensive signing in Stoke’s history.
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Imbula had arrived in the Potteries earlier on Monday after Stoke and Porto made a breakthrough in negotiations, and with minutes left on the clock he sealed the move.
Mark Hughes was said to have been impressed after Imbula played well against Stoke in a preseason friendly for Porto and now he has ended up landing his man in a bumper last-minute deal.
Speaking to Sky Sports News minutes after smashing Stoke’s transfer record for the second time in as many transfer windows, Hughes was delighted Imbula is on board.
“We are delighted we’ve got a very, very good young player who has still got a lot of potential that we hope to realize, and he will add to the strong squad we already have,” Hughes said. “A lot of things have to fall in place before you can even get the player on a plane and traveling over. We just has to wait for a few things to fall into place but they did, thankfully, and once Giannelli was here you have to go through the processes you need to. We’ve been able to do it in the end, which is the important thing. We are absolutely delighted with the acquisition that we have.”
The French midfielder only arrived in Portugal from Marseille last July for $21.3 million but just over eight months later he has now made the switch to England and the Premier League.
A powerful defensive midfielder, his new teammate Charlie Adam described Imbula as a “Patrick Vieira type” as he can drive forward from midfielder and use the ball well, as well as breaking up plays.
With Stoke just four points off the top five, Hughes will be hoping his new holding midfielder can add the solidity which will allow the likes of Bojan, Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic and Ibrahim Affelay to flourish in attack.