When Gianelli Imbula helped EA Guingamp win promotion to Ligue 1, he was linked with a move to nearly every top club in England. Chelsea were reportedly very interested in the France under-21 international, and now he is playing an integral part in Marseille’s successful run to the top of Ligue 1, it’s no surprise to see his name linked to Jose Mourinho’s side once again.
The problem for Chelsea is that has price tag has escalated since he made the jump from Ligue 2. Marseille paid €8 million for Imbula last summer, and despite his blossoming reputation, he struggled to find his feet in his first season.
He started well, playing the opening nine games from the start, but his performances were below par and he would only start another three games for the rest of the season.
Since Marcelo Bielsa has joined the club, Imbula is just one of the players that has enjoyed an instant resurgence as Marseille had romped to eight straight wins at the top of Ligue 1.
Imbula has shown just what he is capable of, and why Chelsea is back showing interest. He is playing in the heart of the Marseille midfield; his long legs are driving the team forward. The goals of Andre-Pierre Gignac and the creativity of Dmitri Payet have received the majority of praise, but Imbula is the man behind most of what Marseille has done well.
He has even added goals to his game this season, already firing two long-range stunners past unsuspecting ‘keepers this season. Imbula looks like a player reborn and the €8 million Marseille paid looks like a bargain.
His performances have won him back his place in the France under-21 squad, he would have been disappointed to see Les Bleus lose out 4-3 to Sweden, but it does mean that he concentrate on winning a place in the full national team.
Imbula’s performances are very reminiscent of Paul Pogba, and the prospect of having both those players lead the France midfield for the next 10 years is an exciting prospect.
If Chelsea wants to try and snatch Imbula away from Marseille, it looks like they will have to pay around four times what Marseille paid 14 months ago.
That sort of mark-up may put the Londoners off making a move, but right now the performances and influence that Imbula is bringing to OM would make him worth every penny.
Any move for Paul Pogba is likely to cost in the region on €70 million, at a third of the price you could get the next in a long line of impressive French midfielders.