Giannelli Imbula


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1992 (27 years old)

Birth Place
Vilvoorde, Belgium


Team Number

1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)





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on loan

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2nd Team

Italian Serie A

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Gilbert Imbula Wanga (born 12 September 1992) is a professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for Lecce on loan from English club Stoke City.

Imbula began his career with French club Guingamp where he progressed from the youth teams to make his professional debut in October 2009. He helped Guingamp to promotion from the Championnat National in 2010–11. He established himself as a key member of the Guingamp team in Ligue 2 and one of the stand out players in the division which saw him win the Ligue 2 Player of the Year Award. This prompted Ligue 1 side Marseille to sign Imbula for a fee of €7 million. He spent two seasons at the Stade Vélodrome before joining Portuguese side Porto in the summer of 2015 for €20 million. After seven months at Porto, Imbula joined English Premier League side Stoke City for a club record £18.3 million.

Imbula was born in Vilvoorde, Belgium, to Congolese parents, who moved to Paris when he was young. Growing up he played youth team football with US Argenteuil, Racing Club, Paris Saint-Germain before moving to Guingamp when he was 15.

Imbula progressed through the youth team at the Stade du Roudourou and made his professional debut in Ligue 2 on 16 October 2009 in a game against Dijon, becoming the youngest player in Ligue 2 history at 17 years, 1 month and 4 days of age. He played 33 times in 2010–11, scoring twice helping Guingamp gain an instant promotion back to Ligue 2. He made 30 appearances in 2011–12 as the side finished seventh which was followed by promotion to Ligue 1 in 2012–13, with Imbula making 36 appearances, scoring two goals and he was named Ligue 2 Player of the Year.

Born to Congolese parents, Imbula was born in Belgium but raised in France, making him eligible for any of these three countries. In 2013, he received a call up from France U21 to compete in the Toulon Tournament. In October 2015, however, Imbula publicly expressed his desire to play for the Belgium national team, for which reason he has required authorization to FIFA to do so.

Imbula plays as a defensive midfielder and has been described by Mark Hughes as being able to play in centre midfield.—"He's a defensive midfielder and he's got a lot of attributes in terms of understanding that role, but he can play in a three as well. I like that flexibility in players because it gives me more options. He's a good young player with good power, good ability on the ball, and a good range of passing."

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