The ‘new Patrick Vieira’ is already playing in the Premier League

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Gianelli Imbula has only played twice for Stoke since his January transfer but the Frenchman is already winning rave reviews from his new team-mates.

The former Porto man made his debut in the 3-0 defeat to Everton but was at the thick end of the action as the Potters bounced back with a 3-1 win over Bournemouth at the weekend, scoring the opening goal of the game after just nine minutes.

With Mark Hughes shelling out a whopping £18.3m to acquire his services Imbula will be under pressure to perform but his Britannia team-mate Xherdan Shaqiri has faith in his ability and has already dubbed his colleague the “new Patrick Vieira”.

“Gianelli is a young guy, he has a lot to learn but he is a top player. You can compare him to Patrick Vieira, only Gianelli is all left-footed,” the Switzerland international said,.

“He has that ability to play secure passes all match and that is so important in a midfielder. He has an unbelievably good technique and plays that key pass between the lines. There is always a little pressure when you move for big money but he is only going to improve here. He makes us better.”

Imbula’s next time to shine will come on February 27 when Stoke play host to basement boys Aston Villa. The Potters go into the game as 8/13 favourites, with the Villans priced up at 19/4 and the draw available at 13/5.

With the new boy in fine form and Villa leaking heavily at the back, though, it could pay to back the new Vieira to strike for a second game in succession.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.