Chelsea are closing in on French midfielder Giannelli Imbula, amid interest from Premier League rivals Arsenal and QPR, according to a Metro report. The 20-year-old Guingamp youngster's performances have earned him the sobriquet of "the new Patrick Vieira", according to Sky Sports.
The Belgian-born player, who remains eligible for both the Belgium and the French national teams, is believed to have a £6m release clause in his contract with the Ligue 2 club. And while the French are expected to hold out for the full value of the clause, the report believes they may be persuaded to lower the asking price if the buying club allows Imbula to remain on loan for the season.
In addition, Imbula is believed to have a fan in interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez. However, Benitez will have to move fast to sign the midfielder. French Ligue 1 clubs Rennes and Olympique Lyon are also believed to be interested.
Imbula himself has remained calm through all the speculation and was quoted in the Sky Sports report as saying he would not get carried away. He also said he knew had to settle into the team [Guingamp] and play more games before leaving.
Benitez on Missed Chances
Meanwhile, Benitez blamed missed chances for the surprise 0-2 defeat to Swansea City in the quarter final of the Capital One Cup. The Blues were beaten by goals from Michu and Danny Graham, as the Swans left Stamford Bridge with a solid advantage ahead of the return leg at Liberty Stadium.
"The team was doing really well. We had a lot of chances and could have scored two or three in the first half, one or two in the second. We made two mistakes and paid for them. The team was attacking, had plenty of possession and creating the chances we had to against a good team and made two mistakes, and conceded two goals," Benitez said after the game.
"The way we played, the control we had, for me, is what we have to do. We have to be more clinical in front of goal and take these chances but we were doing a lot of these things really well," he concluded.
Chelsea will face Swansea in the second leg on 23 January but must first negotiate league games against Stoke City, Southampton and Arsenal.