Mark Hughes thinks the best is yet to come from Stoke City midfielder Giannelli Imbula.
Imbula signed from Porto for a club record £18.3million in February and has made an instant impact with five impressive displays in the Premier League.
The 23-year-old helped Stoke dictate large portions of the second half in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Saturday, Mame Biram Diouf’s 85th-minute header rescuing a draw for the Potters.
Hughes is confident Imbula will develop into an “outstanding player” for the club when he settles into England’s top flight.
“Every time he plays he drives with the ball, he’s technically very good, very comfortable with the ball,” Hughes said.
“When he gets into his stride he just leaves people in his wake. At times there were three or four Chelsea players trying to catch him up and he was just going past them all.
“We’ve got a really good acquisition there and we’re really pleased with what he’s produced in a short space of time – he’s only been with us three or four weeks and he continues to impress us every day in training, so we’re really pleased with what he’s done up to this point.
“There’s more to come from him, he’s only 23, he’s still going to have games where he’s not quite up to speed in terms of his understanding of the Premier League, but once he figures it out he’s going to be an outstanding player for us.”
Stoke’s draw saw them leave Stamford Bridge with a point for the first time in the Premier League, and the manager feels it evidences the huge strides the club is making.
“We’ve come here and shown real belief. It’s the first point I think Stoke have got at Stamford Bridge since 1984,” Hughes said.
“It’s another big stage that we’ve been able to show lots of belief [on], we’ve done it at Liverpool [a 1-0 win in the League Cup in January] where we hadn’t won for 40 odd years, so we continue to progress and do things that haven’t been done for a long time from a Stoke team.”
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