Why Stoke City Are Right In Playing Hardball Over Giannelli Imbula’s Loan Move
Giannelli Imbula’s time at Stoke City is definitely coming towards an end. The 24-year old is set to bring an end to his spell at the Bet365 Stadium after a sub-par year and a half, as the Potters look to offload him in the summer transfer window. The Sun reports that French Ligue1 club OGC Nice are interested in the services of Imbula, offering him a chance to return to his homeland.
There was interest from Italian clubs AS Roma, Torino and Turkish giants Galatasaray as reported by The Mirror last week, but it is Nice who have emerged as the front-runners in the race to sign Imbula on a temporary spell. But, as per reports from talkSport, Stoke are holding up any potential deal with Nice as they want the Cote d’Azur club to pay a larger portion of Imbula’s wages.
The midfielder joined Stoke back in February 2016, from Portuguese club FC Porto for a fee of £18.3million, in what was touted to be a great statement intent by the club. However, things did not go according to plans for both the player and the Potters.
The Frenchman started off well, impressing in the second half of the 2015-16 season. But a poor start to the subsequent campaign saw him get dropped by manager Mark Hughes and ever since, he hasn’t been able to carve out a place in the Stoke playing XI on a consistent basis. Having shown great promise in the early stages of his spell, Imbula failed to prosper in his first full season, leaving Stoke with no choice but to decide to cut their losses.
In the 2016/17 season, he made just 15 appearances for the Potters across all competitions, with no goal or assist to show for in return. As a result, the former Marseille and Porto man will be heading out soon, after having just made 28 appearances for Stoke in which he managed to score twice.
Nice had an excellent campaign in the Ligue1 this past term, as they finished 3rd in the table, to earn qualification to the UEFA Champions League. However, they are set to lose one of their star players Jean-Michel Seri, who has attracted a lot of interest from several quarters across Europe and they see Imbula as a direct replacement for the midfielder.
Imbula is someone who has immense potential. He may have struggled with Stoke this past season, but his innate abilities are there for everyone to see and it is just a matter of time before he realises his potential. A shot of confidence in his arm and a change in surroundings should be able to get him kickstarted once again. So, it is right on Stoke’s part to be playing hardball with Nice over the wage distribution.
The French side were bought by a Chinese-American consortium back in 2016 and are certainly not cash strapped by any means, having brought in Mario Balotelli last summer. They will also reap the financial rewards of European football next term. So, there is no doubt over their financial clout, as they can afford large wages.
Amid interests from the likes of Galatasaray and Roma, Stoke do stand a chance to make a good profit from his sale, so Nice isn’t by any means their only resort, which does put them in a strong position to negotiate. Considering Imbula’s potential, and Nice’s financial status, Stoke are doing the smart thing by pushing for a bigger wage share for the player.