Stoke City have cancelled Giannelli Imbula’s contract by mutual consent.
The £18.3m midfielder, who had been under contract until 2021, had ended a disappointing loan spell at Lecce yesterday and now a free agent, is hoping to gain international clearance to sign for Sochi in Russia.
Reports suggest has not been fit during his time in Italy and he has not featured in Serie A since early October. He has not featured for Stoke since March 2017 – a brief cameo in a defeat at Manchester City – and he had given a series of managers no indication that he wanted to play for the club.
Stoke confirmed his exit with a brief statement this afternoon.
They write: “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.”
Imbula joined Stoke from Porto in February 2016, the deadline day of that mid-season transfer window, just after the club had reached the League Cup semi-finals.
He gave glimpses of a potentially world class talent but they were overshadowed by a lack of discipline both on and off the pitch, including a pre-season friendly when he substituted himself in Orlando.
It had been under Marcelo Bielsa at Marseille where he had been tipped as a future star, with Porto winning a race for his signature. He made a big impression on Mark Hughes and Mark Cartwright in a friendly that summer but only lasted a few months in Portugal.
Hughes, who had been trying to sign Axel Witsel that month, said on deadline day: “Seeing him first hand resonated with me when it was mooted he may be available in this window.
“We tried to speak to the right people, it’s not something we’ve just jumped into in the last month. There’s a lot of work been done in the last month or so.”