Gilbert ‘Giannelli‘ Imbula was a player who interested many parties this summer - including Arsenal.
Today he admitted that he came very close to signing for Chelsea - stating that contact with Chelsea was advanced.
Chelsea wanted to add to their defensive midfield options and Imbula was involved in long talks with the club - but in the end he decided the time was not right:
“Indeed, there were contacts with advanced Blues . But I do not see myself going there. Then, to do what? Honestly, it seemed premature. At this stage of my career, the OM seemed to be the best club for me. "
Now he is more than happy at the Stade Velodrome - and could be about to do Chelsea’s Premier League rivals a big favour.
Imbula will be in the Marseille team that faces off against Borussia Dortmund in their final Champions’ League Group Stage match.
Arsenal know that if they avoid defeat in the Stadio San Paolo they qualify - regardless of the result in the South of France.
But winning in front of the infamous atmosphere in Naples will be difficult - but it was the same in Marseille and Dortmund, where the Gunners were victorious.
As far as Imbula is concerned though, nothing beats Marseille’s vociferous home following - which could be the difference in the Dortmund match:
“When I arrived in Marseille, I fell in love with the Velodrome stadium and its fans. I've never seen a better atmosphere. I had heard much of the Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund with its famous yellow wall ... Personally, it did not impress me. Nothing beats our stadium and our audience. "
Arsenal will hope that Imbula is right about his fans - but also puts in a performance to help extinguish Dortmund hopes on the 11th December.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald