What Are We Doing?

If you haven’t heard, Giannelli Imbula has been linked with a move to Roma, by the Stoke news oracle that is John Percy (don’t mention Glen Johnson’s new contract). The article reports that Roma are ready to come in for Stoke’s record signing, with a bid of around 10 million pounds. This would come at a loss of 8.3 million pounds, let’s give that figure some perspective, up until 1st August 2010 Stoke had failed to spend 8.3 million on a player, never mind lose it.

And why would Roma be interested in bringing in a centre midfielder? Who are they looking to replace? Well in the summer Roma sold Miralem Pjanic to Juventus for 32 million Euros. Juventus, if you didn’t know, sealed qualification to the Champions League final on the same evening as the news about Imbula broke, and Pjanic has started all but 2 of the ‘Old Lady’s’ 12 Champions League fixtures.

The point I’m trying to make is that this speaks somewhat of the quality that Roma see in Imbula and how highly they will be rating him. This suggests that selling Imbula for a loss would be a true travesty, as Roma believe he could replace a Champions League finalist. And Roma themselves are sitting pretty 2nd in Seria A, one point away from confirming an automatic Champions League Group Stage slot. Imbula would be trading the doldrums that is the lower end of the Premier League for the biggest club competition in the world, and Stoke would make a loss on him.

The brains behind this transfer? Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo, more commonly known as Monchi. Monchi is widely renowned as being one the best directors of football, or whatever its equivalent title is, in the world. He was the brains behind Sevilla, and found Steven N’Zonzi on the cheap in Stoke. He saw the potential we all saw in him, and it is no surprise the former Stoke man is now being courted by the likes of Barcelona.

Imbula arrived at Stoke and looked to all to be the messiah, he was the solution, the pivot from attack to defence, the final piece in Mark Hughes’ jigsaw puzzle. He was rightly fawned over by many, such as our own Ben Rowley. In the bleak end to the 2015/16 season Imbula was the shining beacon of hope, since then he has quickly became the scapegoat for Mark Hughes war on flair.

Dropped after a 4-0 loss to Tottenham, Imbula was criticised for not being willing to do the hard work in the centre of the midfield. Even though his midfield partner put in a display so poor that there could have been an entire blog dedicated to it.

Imbula later returned to Stoke’s side in a MOTM performance against Watford in front of the Sky Sports camera’s. To say Imbula dominated would be an understatement, the Belgian dictated Stoke’s tempo, the opposition’s tempo, I’d even bet that he went into the concourse at half time and told the Watford fans what Pie they were having. He was everywhere in attack and defence.

A poor performance against Liverpool saw Imbula given a final chance to prove himself, as if he had failed to do so, against Wolves in the cup. A dramatically unbalanced side went 1-0 down in the first half and Imbula was pulled off at half time, he has had a combined 7 minutes of play since, and Stoke went on to concede another losing 2-0.

Since this incident, when Imbula was banished from the squad, Stoke have only managed 4 wins, against 2 already relegated sides and 2 others in the relegation scrap. Stoke have claimed 17 points from 15 games, played out over a season this would gain you about 43 points, the form of a side involved in a relegation fight. Maybe Imbula wasn’t the problem, and was suffering just as much as his team mates?

Not just anyone draws comparison with Patrick Vieira, especially in Vieira’s home country of France. Add to this both Saido Berahino and Jonathan Walters labelling Imbula as one of the greatest they have ever played with, and this whole situation looks even more bizarre.

Selling Imbula would come with a huge risk, of Stoke being left looking like fools, much in the same way we have done with selling N’Zonzi for only 7 million. The very fact we are in this situation is a damning indictment of Mark Hughes’ appalling man management or his poor transfer policy. It is a horrible mess that is no way beneficial to the club, but it is hard to see how a cut price transfer would go anyway to clearing the mess up and how it would be beneficial to Stoke.
Written by Tom Thrower

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