Arsene Wenger got a good look at France Under-21 international Gianelli Imbula during the Gunners’ 2-1 win against Marseille in the Champions League, but a planned January swoop for the midfielder could be scuppered by rivals Chelsea, who are also keen on landing his signature.
The former PSG youth only arrived at the Stade Velodrome during the summer in a £6m move from Guingamp, but after slotting seamlessly into his new side’s midfield Marseille will hold out for a fee in excess of £20m for Imbula if the cream of Europe come calling in the new year.
Imbula became the youngest player in Ligue 2 history at Guingamp
At the tender age of 17 years and 34 days old the Belgian-born naturalised Frenchman became the youngest player ever to play in France’s second tier against Dijon in October 2009.
Last term, in his final season at the Stade du Roudourou, Imbula helped the club to second place and promotion to Ligue 1 and won the division’s player of the year award.
Against Arsenal the midfielder attempted 49 passes, with over 85 per cent hitting their target
Arsenal are 27/20 favourites to top Champions League Group F after their show of dominance in Marseille, but Imbula could still throw a spanner in the works in the return fixture at the Emirates after linking well with Mathieu Valbuena in midfield against Wenger’s side.
The 21-year-old was full of energy against the north Londoners, making four tackles and successfully dribbling past Arsenal players on six occasions, which was more than any other player in his team.
Despite only arriving at the club in July Imbula has already established himself at Marseille
Coming into a side that finished runners-up in Ligue 1 last season would faze many a young player, but Imbula has gone about his business with relish and has started six of Marseille’s eight league games this season, plus the aforementioned European tie against Arsenal.
Against Saint-Etienne recently the youngster netted his first strike in front of the Marseille faithful and has laid on three goalscoring chances for his new teammates since the start of the campaign.