The 23-year-old former France Under-21 international has penned a five-and-a-half-year contract at the Britannia Stadium, while Stoke’s outlay dwarfs their previous record fee of £12m paid to Inter Milan for Xherdan Shaqiri in August.
Stoke’s capture of Imbula together with Everton’s £13.5m signing of Lokomotiv Moscow striker Oumar Niasse were the major contributors to the final deadline day spend of £45m by Premier League clubs.
That equals last year’s deadline day outlay although the total spend of £175m by top-flight clubs during the winter transfer window surpassed the £130m shelled out 12 months and took spending for the season to £1.045bn, according to Deloitte.
The signing of Niasse made the Senegal forward the third most-expensive player in Everton’s history behind Belgium duo Romelu Lukaku, who cost £28m in 2014, and £15m Marouane Fellaini.
Watford, meanwhile, landed midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure from Rennes for an undisclosed fee, believed to be £8m, and teenage forward Adalberto Penaranda, who will remain on loan at Granada.
Newcastle bolstered their attacking options with the loan signing of Ivory Coast forward Seydou Doumbia from Roma, with a view to a permanent £7m transfer in the summer.
Deadline day, however, was just as noteworthy for the transfers that did not occur as both Newcastle and Tottenham drew a blank in their pursuit of West Brom striker Saido Berahino, while Leicester were frustrated in their bid to recruit Chelsea striker Loic Remy.
Arsenal full-back Mathieu Debuchy joined Bordeaux on loan for the remainder of the season, while QPR midfielder Leroy Fer made the temporary switch to Swansea and Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher moved to Marseille until the summer.
The window also saw Championship sides gambling to secure a Premier League place and a slice of record television revenue. Middlesbrough paid an initial £9m for Blackburn Rovers hitman Jordan Rhodes while Burnley spent £6m on Brentford defender James Tarkowski.