Stoke City: Steven Nzonzi set for Champions' League, says Tony Pulis
TONY Pulis believes midfielder Steven Nzonzi will be a Champions' League player before the end of his career.
And he says the 23-year-old Frenchman is among his best signings in nine years as a Stoke manager.
Nzonzi, a popular ever present since arriving from Blackburn eight games ago, leads City's midfield in tonight's testing trip to West Ham (8pm).
And Pulis is urging more of the same from Nzonzi after seeing him bed quickly into life at the Britannia.
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"I think he's a top player," Pulis enthused. "If he keeps improving, I think he could play in the top four or five teams."
He says his first real insight into Nzonzi came from West Ham boss Sam Allardyce shortly after he was controversially sacked by Blackburn.
"He said to sign him. He said don't hesitate, just take him, because he's going to be a top player. He was very open and honest about it, as he usually is.
"Sam thought there was a lot to come out – and that was 18 months ago.
"But I didn't ring him this time when I went to sign him... I didn't want to alert him.
"I think he's been outstanding for us, one of the best signings we've made at this football club because he's got real potential to be a top player.
"Now we've got Asmir Begovic, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson and Nzonzi who are all 25 or under, which is fantastic for the club."
Stoke are without the injured Glenn Whelan and the suspended Dean Whitehead this evening to reduce their midfield options against a West Ham trio headed by Kevin Nolan.
"The great thing about Kevin is his return of goals," Pulis warned.