Soccer

Imbula is new Patrick Vieira, says Stoke City forward Shaqiri

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13: Giannelli Imbula of Stoke City controls the ball under pressure of Harry Arter of Bournemouth during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Stoke City at Vitality Stadium on February 13, 2016 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13: Giannelli Imbula of Stoke City controls the ball under pressure of Harry Arter of Bournemouth during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Stoke City at Vitality Stadium on February 13, 2016 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Gianelli Imbula's superb start to life in the Premier League football has earned the praise of Stoke City team-mate Xherdan Shaqiri who compared him with Arsenal great Patrick Vieira.

The Frenchman helped the team end a run of four league games without a goal against Bournemouth on Saturday, the Potters winning 3-1 on the south coast.

Signed from Porto at the end of the January transfer window for £18.3m, the 23-year-old impressed in just his second league appearance, lashing home in the ninth minute to put Stoke ahead.

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The Frenchman also played a vital role in controlling the centre of the pitch, leading Swiss international Shaqiri to praise his potential.

"Gianelli is a young guy, he has a lot to learn but he is a top player," Shaqiri told reporters, while likening Imbula's style of play to an Arsenal legend.

"You can compare him to Patrick Vieira, only Gianelli is all left-footed.

"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."