Stoke City have confirmed they have terminated the contract of their club record-signing Giannelli Imbula.
The midfielder joined Stoke from Porto in 2016 for around £18.3m but has not featured for the club since March 2017, spending the past three years out on loan.
Imbula’s Stoke nightmare: Five things to know…
- Giannelli Imbula joined Stoke from Porto in January 2016.
- He started every game until the end of the 2015/16 season.
- However, disciplinary issues on and off the pitch meant he quickly fell out of favour.
- He joined Toulouse on loan in 2017 before spells in Spain and Italy.
- Lecce, his most recent club, cut his loan spell short last week.
Spells with Toulouse and Rayo Vallecano preceded a loan at Lecce this season, with Imbula making just four appearances for the Italian club across all competitions.
However, that loan was terminated on Friday by mutual consent with Lecce releasing a very brief statement, saying: “The US Lecce announces that it has consensually terminated the contractual relationship with the footballer Giannelli Imbula.”
And just a day later, Stoke announced the termination of his contract with the club despite Imbula having 18 months left on the deal, mirroring Lecce with a very short statement.
The 29-word message read: “Stoke City can confirm that Giannelli Imbula’s contract with the Club has been cancelled by mutual consent, subject to regulatory approval.
We wish Giannelli well in his future career.”
Should the termination go through without a problem, Imbula would be free to change clubs pending the registration periods. And, according to the Daily Mail, Imbula could be on his way to Lokomotiv Moscow.
However, Lecce sporting director Mauro Meluso believes China is another option, with the transfer window not closing until next week.
“Just in these days we are negotiating for his contract termination with us and with Stoke for the loan,” he told TuttoCalcioPuglia.
“The Chinese market is open and I think he can go there.”
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Glen Johnson opens up about Imbula’s problems at Stoke
There is no doubting that there is a player deep down in Imbula – in his first few months at Stoke, he was clearly someone with immense natural talent as well as a frame that could dominate any midfield.
However, his attitude appears to have cost him a career at the top. Speaking to BBC 5Live in March 2019, Glen Johnson hinted that Imbula’s behaviour turned things sour at Stoke prior to their relegation to the Championship.
He said: “Giannelli Imbula subbed himself because someone didn’t pass him the ball. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was in a pre-season game and in training, I swear to you. Record signing. Like £20million or something?
“He’s on the edge of the box or whatever, Charlie (Adam) has burst through and didn’t cut the ball back so he’s waved his arms in the air with his gloves on then he starts walking towards the bench.
“Then he’s swearing in French on the bench, throwing things around, but still no one knows what’s going on. Then obviously someone gets stripped off and comes on.
“But then 10 minutes later he decides he wants to play again. This is where it’s a disgrace. He came back on and they took the kid off again.
“So rather than saying to G (Imbula), people are having a word with the manager, saying, ‘Did you not see this?’
“We’re not saying it as calmly as that by the way. We’re saying, ‘Is no one going to say anything?’ But no one would say anything and they’d roll their eyes.
“And then it got even worse. When he was doing stuff they would turn their back so they didn’t see it, so they could avoid confrontation.”