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Shaqiri sings Imbula praises after impressing for Stoke

Football Soccer - Stoke City v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Semi Final First Leg - Britannia Stadium - 5/1/16 Stoke's Xherdan Shaqiri warms up before the match Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine Livepic
Football Soccer - Stoke City v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Semi Final First Leg - Britannia Stadium - 5/1/16Stoke's Xherdan Shaqiri warms up before the matchAction Images via Reuters / Carl RecineLivepic

REUTERS - Gianelli Imbula's smooth transition to Premier League football has not gone unnoticed by fellow Stoke City midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri after the Frenchman helped the team end a run of four league games without a goal against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Signed from Porto at the end of the January transfer window for a reported 18.3 million pounds ($26.6 million), the 23-year-old impressed in just his second league appearance, lashing home in the ninth minute to put Stoke on course for a 3-1 victory.

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."

($1 = 0.6886 pounds)

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien)

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