Arsenal Transfer News: Stoke Chase Gunners Target Giannelli Imbula, Top Rumours

Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2016

Imbula of FC Porto during the International friendly match between Fortuna Sittard and FC Porto on July 15, 2015 at the Trendwork Arena in Sittard, The Netherlands.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Arsenal could miss out on target Giannelli Imbula after Stoke City reportedly made a club-record £19 million bid for the Porto midfielder. 

Darren Lewis of the Mirror reported the Potters attempt to jump ahead of the queue for the player's services, with David Wright of the Express declaring the Gunners are "rocked" by Stoke manager Mark Hughes' offer. 

The former France under-21 international was a hit for Marseille during his two seasons at the Ligue 1 giants but moved to Porto last summer. He has struggled for form in Portugal, making him vulnerable to approaches in January.

Claude Paris/Associated Press

Stoke have shown great ambition under Hughes' tenure, recruiting the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan Krkic to form a dynamic core at the Britannia Stadium.

Wright explained Arsenal pursued Imbula in the summer before he opted to move to Porto, but coach Arsene Wenger has kept his eye on the player, remaining "keen to sign him."

Football writer Ben Jata lauded the player during Porto's 2-1 win against Chelsea in the Champions League:

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Ramires of Chelsea and Giannelli Imbula of FC Porto during the UEFA Champions League match between Chelsea and FC Porto at Stamford Bridge on December 9, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

The 23-year-old has struggled to break into the first team at the Dragon Stadium, making only eight starts in the Primeira Liga since his £15 million switch, according to Wright. 

Sky Sports quoted Hughes, when asked about the potential of capturing the midfielder, and the Stoke boss said:

It is inappropriate for me to talk about individual players, other than to say we're in the market for good players. We are actively looking. We think there are opportunities if everything falls into place, but there are a lot of factors.

We never get too ahead of ourselves because we know the potential pitfalls of the transfer process. We just have to be patient. If it happens, we'll be delighted. If we have to bide our time until the summer, so be it.

Here is a video showing why Wenger wanted to add Imbula to his squad:

In other news, Arsenal prodigy Alex Iwobi could temporarily leave the club, dropping down to the Championship on loan with Nottingham Forrest. 

Local newspaper the Nottingham Post said the 19-year-old forward, who has made four appearances for the first team in the Premier League this term, could move to the east Midlands to play more first-team football.

Wenger praised the versatile player during pre-season, per the Nottingham Post. "I like his team attitude, his movement," said Wenger following Iwobi's goalscoring contribution in August's Emirate's Cup. "We have a game based on movement and speed, and he integrates that very well. He has good power and is usually efficient – he scores goals a lot."

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17: Alex Iwobi of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Stoke-on-Trent, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Iwobi is one of Wenger's most promising youngsters, but he is ready to play football every week, and a spell at Forest will give him the opportunity. 

The teenager will be ready for increased game time in the Premier League next season and could find his way to a year-long loan to one of England's top-tier sides in 2016-17.

The potential loss of Imbula is unlikely to worry Wenger too much after he strengthened the midfield with Egyptian player Mohamed Elneny.

Elneny fits the squad needs down to a tee, bringing defensive energy to the centre of the park that Arsenal currently miss.