Mark Hughes says he was surprised Liverpool allowed Joe Allen to leave for his Stoke side in the summer.
Allen has been one of the form midfielders of the Premier League season so far, scoring five goals.
Allen struggled for regular league starts at Liverpool, but was excellent for Wales during Euro 2016, which helped raise his profile.
“I had admired Joe Allen from afar for a long time and obviously his time at Anfield was frustrating for him,” said Hughes.
“It was only by a virtue of not playing week in week out that we managed to get him here.
“We were quite surprised that Liverpool were allowing him to leave after the European Championships, but I think they had other irons in the fire which allowed us to take Joe.
“They clearly were happy to do the deal and so were we. If you look at his performances since he arrived here they have been outstanding. We are delighted with the deal that was brokered.
“I think Joe will want to do well when he goes back there, that is natural. He has nothing to prove though in fairness, I know that he was appreciated there by supporters and players alike.
“A lot of supporters expressed surprise when they allowed him to leave and I would expect him to receive a tremendous reception on the 27th.”