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French club Guingamp have confirmed they fear losing 20-year-old midfielder Gianelli Imbula (also known as Gilbert Imbula) this summer. Premier League clubs Arsenal and Chelsea could have competition from Ligue 1 sides Marseille and Monaco in signing the France U21 International, who was valued at a reported £8m in a Mail Online report in May.
"I am preparing for the season and counting on him. After that, we know very well that if one of the big French clubs comes to us with a big proposal it will be difficult for the club to refuse. It would be difficult for us to keep [him]," Guingamp manager Jocelyn Gourvennec told Eurosport France.
The 41-year-old former Marseille midfielder confirmed serious interest from local rivals Marseille and Monaco but insisted that any transfer approach would have to reflect the full value of the player.
"Gianelli was very clear with us. If he is with us this season, he will be very happy. Now, if the offer from a big French club satisfies our chiefs this will be the case too. The really interested [clubs] are Marseille and Monaco," Gourvennec concluded.
The London clubs' interest was believed to be strong at the start of the year, with now-relegated Queens Park Rangers also credited with an interest.
Rafael Benitez, who was then in charge at Stamford Bridge, is believed to be an admirer of Imbula's and although he is now no longer with the Blues, the former Real Madrid youth coach could lead Serie A side Napoli, whom he now manages, in a transfer bid.
It remains to be seen if Jose Mourinho will bid for Imbula, who could provide perfect long-term cover for 35-year-old Frank Lampard.
Arsenal, meanwhile, continue to lack cover in that defensive/holding midfield role, last filled by Cameroonian Alex Song. Spaniard Mikel Arteta spent most of the 2012/13 Premier League season in that role and although he performed admirably, a specialist in that position will not only free the former Everton star to have a more attacking influence on the game but also provide cover for the likes of Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky.
The Gunners are believed to have significant transfer funds but Arsene Wenger's focus, for now at least, appears to be on reinforcing his striking positions, with Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain and Liverpool's Luis Suarez the preferred targets.