Stoke continue European renaissance with Giannelli Imbula deal

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These are exciting times for Stoke City, watching players such as Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan and Marko Arnautovic on a weekly basis, and the ante is set to be upped a little more.

Reports have emerged strongly linking the Potters with a club-record deal for Porto midfielder Giannelli Imbula.

The 23-year-old only moved to the Portuguese giants last summer from Marseille, but a failure to find regular football has seen attention come in from a host of Premier League clubs.

Southampton are also in the running for the Belgium-born Frenchman, but it’s Hughes’ Stoke in pole position with a bid believed to be between £14-19m.

Hughes has worked hard to change Stoke’s image from one of resolute, long-ball football under Tony Pulis, to one of creativity, flair and pace.

Having attracted the likes of Bojan, Shaqiri and Arnautovic to the club, Stoke now have a nucleus of quality creative players.

The arrival of Imbula would only add to that, and with the Staffordshire side just five points off fifth place, there’s a genuine chance the club could achieve their best ever Premier League finish this term.

Imbula has been regarded as Hughes’ main target during the January window, and it now looks as though the two sides have agreed a fee.

With Steven N’Zonzi leaving Stoke last summer to join Sevilla, Hughes has been keen to find a powerful defensive midfielder.

Shaqiri’s £12m deal from Inter Milan in August is the club’s record transfer signing, but Imbula’s arrival would smash that by several million.

Widely regarded as one of the loudest and most atmospheric stadiums in the country, life at the Britannia Stadium might just get better still.

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