A closer look at Stoke’s potential £18m midfield maestro

Upper management at Stoke City must be very confident in the direction Mark Hughes has taken the club. After breaking their transfer record last July by signing Xherdan Shaqiri, the Potters are reportedly set to break that record once again today.

According to Sky Sports, Stoke have agreed to terms with FC Porto over the signing of French midfielder Gianelli Imbula for a whopping £18million.

The 23 year-old will join an impressive midfield that contains the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Affelay, Marco Van Ginkel and Glenn Whelan to name a few.

Who is Gianelli Imbula?

The French international made his debut at the age of 17 for Ligue 2 side Guingamp, becoming the youngest player in Ligue 2 history.

He helped elevate Guingamp to the Ligue 1, and was voted the 2013 Ligue 2 Player of the Year. It was then he joined Marseille where he experienced a period of consistent success for the next two seasons and was sold to FC Porto last July.

The 23-year-old hasn’t been able to find his form since joining the Portuguese side and Porto were ready to move him this January…

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What’s He Like?

Think of him as an heir to the Glenn Whelan throne. He’s shown in his time with Marseille that he can effectively hold down the centre of the pitch and fill the defensive midfielder role as well.

He’s an excellent dribbler who’s not afraid to make a run with the ball up the field and his patience can start an effective build up style of play.

The Frenchmen’s concentration, awareness and vision in the middle of the pitch help him defensively and can allow his side’s attacking midfielders to push forward. While he tends to hold back offensively, he’s not shy to let one rip from outside the box with an impressive left foot.

Will He Fit At Stoke City?

While Glenn Whelan is still an effective player for Stoke City this season, at 32, his age may bring up some concerns for Mark Hughes. Club Chairman Peter Coates said in November that signing another Glenn Whelan was a top priority in January.

By signing Imbula, the club is ready for the days when they can no longer call on the Irishmen on a consistent basis. Imbula can hold down the centre of the pitch similar to that of Whelan’s style that the Potter’s have become accostomed to over the past nine years.

With summer signing Charlie Adam in poor form this season and recently sidelined due to injury, Imbula could join Stoke and make an immediate impact as the club makes a run for the top four.

Worth a punt?

Yes. Stoke’s already great midfield could use another player holding down the middle of the pitch. The price of £18million is steep, but with Porto eager to dump the midfielder, they could actually be getting a good deal buying now rather than waiting for the summer.

At 23, Stoke has a solid central midfielder for the present and future.