Chelsea have stepped up their interest in long-term Arsenal transfer target Gilbert Imbula, according to the Daily Mail.

The 20-year-old Guingamp midfielder became the youngest player in Ligue 2 history when he made his professional debut in October 2009.

He's made more than 80 league appearances for the club since then, after failing to make the grade at Paris St Germain as a youngster.

The France youth international was called up for the under-21 national team for the recent Toulon tournament.

Paris St Germain and Roma, as well as Chelsea and Arsenal, are all reported to have scouted the youngster.

Reports last month claimed Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had scouted Imbula through last season, and was prepared to pay up to £8m to win the race for his signature.

He's a defensive midfielder, a position Arsenal feel they need to strengthen following the departure of Alex Song to Barcelona 12 months ago.

Imbula was excellent as Guingamp won promotion from Ligue 2 last term, and his performances are thought to have alerted Chelsea as well.

The Stamford Bridge side are reportedly willing to sell John Obi Mikel, with Turkish giants Galatasaray heavily linked.

That would free up the Blues to move for Imbula, who would replace the Nigerian international as a younger alternative.

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