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Gianelli Imbula


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Chelsea are reportedly working on a deal for Guingamp midfielder Giannelli Imbula after receiving glowing scouting reports on the player.

Imbula, who is a regular for Ligue 2 side Guingamp, has impressed talent spotters from both Arsenal and QPR in recent months, but Chelsea believe they can bag the midfielder who has already been dubbed as ‘the new Patrick Vieira’.

Blues boss Rafa Benitez is said to have made the 20-year-old his top transfer priority, after the club kick started their January spending with a deal for Newcastle striker Demba Ba last week.

However, Imbula is not likely to come cheap, with reports in France suggesting that Guingamp will only do business if his £6million release clause is met – something that is doubtful at present.

Chelsea scouts, who sent Benitez a detailed report on the player earlier this month, are urging the club to push through a deal, and talks are set to continue this week.

Guingamp are likely to request that Imbula remains with them on-loan until the end of the season, and could accept a lower fee if Chelsea agree to that.


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He plays in ligue 2 right now so its best that first he makes an impression in the ligue 1 then moves to a big club.

Wasn't a problem for Romeu playing in the Spanish second division - if he's good enough, and our scouts seem to think he is, then sign him up. I like low risk transfers that pay off down the line!

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  • 8 months later...


In keeping with the clubs current transfer policy of signing promising young players, Chelsea have been linked with the signing of Marseille midfielder Gianelli Imbula, according to the Evening Standard. The 21-year-old defensive midfielder has already been likened to Chelsea legend Claude Makelele, due to his combative play in the holding midfield position that Makelele made fashionable. With Michael Essien a shadow of his past self and Frank Lampard ageing, the Blues could do with some bite in central midfield areas. But is Imbula really the new Makelele?

Comparisons have been made due to the physical nature with which both men play the game. Chelsea scout Guy Hillion points to Imbula’s ability to cover and accelerate as one of the key strengths of a player often labelled as 'combative'.

The pair occupy similar roles in the team, with Imbula currently playing the holding role that Makelele became synonymous with. The above heat map shows Imbula’s positioning during a recent Ligue 1 fixture with St Etienne. Whilst he took up some places in forward areas, the bulk of his touches occurred either within his own half, or around the middle of the pitch.

A pass map of the same fixture shows that Imbula favours short passes to midfield team-mates, with most of his passes short sideways passes in his own half – showing a tendency to get the ball and pass it on to his more creative team-mates. His average pass length is the shortest of Marseille’s midfield at 17m, and reflects a similar kind of approach to Makelele.

As you would expect from a player likened to Makelele, Imbula is the most prolific tackler in the Marseille midfield. Winning 68% of his tackles – amounting to 14 from 19 – he has this season proven to be a formidable opponent in the number of duals won. He has won 68% of his duals, faring well in take ons as well as tackles, although he has won less than 50% of his headers. He has been fouled nine times, perhaps indicative of his strength and the force required to win the ball from him.

Imbula’s potential persuaded Marseille to part with £5.9 million to prise him from Guingamp, and if he continues to develop as he has then that could prove to be a bargain. Physically powerful and strong in the tackle, the comparisons with Makelele are easy to see. Linked with Arsenal before his summer move, Chelsea are likely to have to part with a considerable sum of money for Marseille to sell. However if they stump up the cash then they may have found the successor to Makelele and Essien that they have been missing.

Seen him play three times for Marseille already this year (games against Guimgamp [his old club], against PSG and against Monaco). He looks a decent player; strong, calm on the ball, good at tackling.. obviously being French and playing a holding role hes compared to Makelele but he could be a good signing for us.

Guy Hilton has confirmed our interest in him and also the Marseille president has said that they beat us to signing him in the summer.

I'm unsure about paying €30 million but hey, who knows.

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  • 4 months later...

Reports in France suggest that Chelsea have not been deterred by the 21-year-old's quiet season and are preparing to rekindle their interest.

The Blues were linked with a £25m move for Imbula in January but there was a suggestion that Chelsea had dropped their interest over questions about the players attitude.

The youngster was dropped from the French Under-21 squad in November for making inappropriate comments to a member of staff and has also had run-ins with the Marseille hierarchy.

But Chelsea have continued to quietly monitor the former Guingamp youngster's progress and have seen nothing to deter them from their initial impressions.

Last October Chelsea scout Guy Hillion told French media: "I have seen [Giannelli Imbula] often.

"As soon as he gets the ball he is able to accelerate and break through the lines.

"He covers well, has good technique, great vision of the game, with a very good quality pass and a great left foot.

"Those aren't bad qualities for a midfielder."


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Mikel out?...


Chelsea are eyeing up a summer deal for Marseille midfielder Gianelli Imbula – as Jose Mourinho looks to replace John Obi Mikel.

Imbula was a target for the Blues at the end of last season, but after failing to agree a fee with Guingamp, he eventually signed for Marseille.

The 21-year-old has since continued his progress in French football – and Mourinho is plotting a new bid to bring him to Stamford Bridge when the window re-opens.

According to RMC, Imbula is seen as a long-term replacement for Nigerian midfielder Obi Mikel, who has been told he can leave Chelsea for a small fee."


would be a huge upgrade

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