Lille star Gabriel Magalhães admits he's flattered amid speculation linking him to a £30 million move to Chelsea, saying manager Frank Lampard is a player he 'grew up admiring'.
The 22-year-old Brazilian, who's been a staple of Lille's centre-back pairing alongside club captain Jose Fonté, has been repeatedly linked with multiple Premier League clubs after his performances in France's top tier have impressed.
Lampard also had a chance to watch Malgalhães first hand when Lille came to Stamford Bridge in December, a result which finished 2-1 in favour of the Blues.
"It shows that the work I’ve done so far has been good."
Speaking to Brazilian website UOL, Magalhães had quite a lot to say on the subject.
"I follow, but I try to stay apart. I always tell my managers that, at this moment, I want to know as little as possible so as not to lose focus on the pitch.
"I am happy to see my name being linked with great teams. It shows that the work I’ve done so far has been good.
"I also see many fans of the two teams commenting on my posts on Instagram [laughs]. It’s funny."
These comments came after Chelsea fans took to the Brazilian's Instagram page in attempts to 'welcome' him to the club.
"We have to be calm with all this."
When asked about the possibility of being coached by Chelsea legend Lampard, Gabriel was both optimistic and calm.
"He was a great player without a doubt.
"He is one of those players that I admired on the small screen.
"But we have to be calm with all this. It is early and I renewed my contract with Lille until 2023.
"The focus now is to return to play and end the season in high level, qualifying Lille for the 2020/21 Champions League."
"He’s an absolute machine."
Speaking to Sky Sports last week, Lille president Gerard Lopez did nothing to quash the transfer rumours, claiming Gabriel is ready to join a big club, before then describing the defender "among the top five dominant central defenders in Europe".
"We haven’t taken that decision yet, but he’s received a number of offers. I feel he’s closer to one club than others, but nothing’s done yet so we’ll see.
"I wouldn’t want to say any more as I respect the player too much. The mechanism I have in place, and we saw that work so well with Nico [Nicolas Pepe], is that I have a certain price in mind for a player, and at the end of the day it’s the player’s choice to go and play where he wants to play – that’s the respect that I have for them.
"I feel he is among the top five dominant central defenders in Europe right now. His statistics, which aren’t well covered outside of France, shows that his percentage for winning duels is pretty unheard of in a league that’s extremely physical.
"He’s an absolute machine, so to me, he’s well on his way – if not this year – to potentially a really big club. I’m certain he’s on his way to the Brazilian national team at some point.
"He’s been linked to two clubs in the UK and he’s clearly been linked to other clubs that have either enquired or moved forward with proposals for him. But we’re not in a hurry and we’re not playing right now. The player isn’t on the pitch."