24.02.2020 21:22 h

Imbula to join Rami at Russia's Sochi: director

Belgian-born Democratic Republic of Congo midfielder Giannelli Imbula is set to join Sochi the general director of the struggling newcomers in the Russian premier league said on Monday.

Imbula, who played for France at youth level, had a frustrating four-year spell at Stoke City in England, will line up alongside French international Adil Rami at the club in the Black Sea resort city.

Both have been released by their previous clubs in the last few days.

Imbula, Stoke's record signing in 2016, had spent the last two-and-half seasons on loan in France, Spain and Italy before agreeing to terminate his contract on Saturday.

French World Cup winner Rami has also had a checkered recent history. The 34-year-old defender was released by Turkish club Fenerbahce last Friday

He was fired by Marseille for disciplinary reasons last season.

Sochi, who were formed out of a Saint Petersburg side and play in the stadium used for the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony, won promotion last year to the Russian premier league but are bottom of the league.

The club's general director Dmitry Rubashko told the Sport Express newspaper that he had confidence in Imbula.

"There can be different reasons why someone does not perform at one team or another. He is 27. He has long performed in Europe and has a highly professional approach and there is no problem with motivation," he said.

"The fact there are two newcomers both speaking French means that they will better adapt to the new place," Rubashko said.

He said Rami -- a former partner of the actress Pamela Anderson -- was starting training with the club.

Rubashko said the player had come with a reference from France coach Didier Deschamps.

"Deschamps knows him well from the national team and Marseille and gave a good recommendation. The situation suited the player and the club," said Rubashko.