According to the Stoke Sentinel, Stoke City midfielder Giannelli Imbula is closing in on a move to Italian club Lecce, with the report suggesting that the Potters want to cash in on the expensive flop before the European transfer deadline on September 2.
Imbula is currently training with the club’s U-23 side after being given the chop by manager Nathan Jones and the 26-year-old’s situation at the bet365 Stadium is far from ideal.
The Belgian-born Congolese midfielder, who joined Stoke City from FC Porto for a club-record fee of £18.3 million back in January 2016, is apparently on the verge of an exit after failing to make any sort of a positive impression in English football.
Luckily enough for Imbula, though, newly-promoted Serie A side Lecce are willing to offer the midfielder an escape route. As per the report, the Italians are looking for an initial loan deal with an option to make the move permanent for a fee of €4 million next summer.
A youth product of French club Guingamp, Imbula bagged the Ligue 2 Player of the Year award in the 2012-13 season before earning a move to the top-flight with Marseille.
The defensive midfielder hit great heights under then Marseille boss Marcelo Bielsa and a fruitful couple of seasons paved the way for a move to Portuguese giants Porto.
Imbula’s spell at Porto lasted only seven months before he completed a record switch to Stoke City, then in the Premier League.
The 26-year-old initially impressed with his energy, passing and skills on the ball, playing a key role for the Potters in the second half of the 2015-16 campaign.
However, after making just 12 league appearances over the entirety of the 2016-17 season and several reports of indiscipline in training, Imbula was shipped out on loan to French side Toulouse in 2017, where he helped his club beat the drop via Ligue 1 playoffs.
The 26-year-old spent the previous campaign on loan at Rayo Vallecano, although his battle against relegation from the La Liga proved unsuccessful. However, he is now back at Stoke and facing the risk of being stuck in limbo if a move elsewhere doesn’t materialize before the deadline.
To put things into perspective, Stoke City need to sort out the future of Imbula sooner rather than later and the offer from Lecce looks to be a decent one.
The 26-year-old clearly doesn’t have a future at the bet365 Stadium and getting him off the books permanently would help the club get rid of some deadwood in their ranks.
The Potters, of course, don’t have a realistic chance of recouping all the money that they had spent to bring him to the club due to his dwindling stocks and, in all honesty, the should now look at cutting their losses on Imbula.
The midfielder is way below the pecking order, epitomized by the fact that he has been asked to train with the U-23 side, and a potential departure would hardly affect the club’s plans moving forward in the campaign.
Stoke are already well-stocked in their midfield options, with the likes of James McClean, Joe Allen, Peter Etebo, Sam Clucas, Ryan Woods and Jordan Cousins all in the ranks, meaning that it shouldn’t be a problem for the Potters to cope with the departure of Imbula.
Furthermore, according to another report from the Stoke Sentinel, central midfielder Badou Ndiaye is set to make a return to the club’s first-team picture, which could potentially close all doors for the Congolese international to make an unlikely return.
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All in all, the fans should be happy with the Potters parting ways with their club-record signing.
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