It is a fair analysis to say that Gervinho’s time at Arsenal was a failure. The only significant moment in his Arsenal career was a red card in his first game against Newcastle. The Ivorian promised so much for the North London side, scoring 18 goals in all competitions during his last season for Lille. Even Arsene Wenger was optimistic about what he could add to Arsenal, stating that he found Gervinho’s qualities important and that he would be a great addition to the squad.
He did of course have the qualities that Arsene Wenger values, being a quick, skillful winger. It seemed he would be a player that might hark back to golden days of Wenger, a time when he was praised for his work in finding Ligue 1 talent. Gervinho himself echoed the same optimism, saying, “It’s a great feeling to be an Arsenal player. I’ve always dreamed to play for this club.” Unfortunately, It was a shattered dream, ending with a transfer to AS Roma for a reported £8m after a woeful second season at the club.
Arsenal confirmed the transfer on their club website, and the fans were quite supportive of the move, wishing him well on his move to Roma. Famous Arsenal fan Piers Morgan was less sympathetic to Gervinho, responding with: “Wait.. NO!… wait… OK.. deep.. breath… over.. it” to a sarcastic tweet by Gary Lineker: “Roma have paid £8m for Gervinho, Arsenal have lost another one of their heroes.” Of course, that said, all Gervinho will be remembered for is being the butt of English football fans jokes, and a flop that promised so much.
A move to Roma will help him continue his already successful international career. After making his debut for the Ivory Coast in 2009, he has enjoyed appearances in three African Cup of Nations and a World Cup. His lowest moment did come in an African Cup of Nations final against Zambia, in which he missed a penalty in a shootout the Zambia went on to win. Besides that, he has been a key element to the national side, usually producing his best performances after pulling on the orange jersey. While once the Ivory Coast used to rely on Drogba, they arguably now rely on Gervinho just a much as Drogba, and the move to Roma will only enhance his importance to Ivory Coast.
Gervinho will add a more direct style to Roma, while Erik Lamela and Francesco Totti have been the instigators in Roma’s powerful attack last season. They relied very heavily on the contribution of both players, and Gervinho has been brought in to take the weight off of the pair. His talent has withered over his two years at Arsenal, however he did perform excellently last season against Reading, winning man of the match in his finest Arsenal display. The performance was a slight glimpse at what Arsenal could have had and what Roma might have in store.
The statistics don’t make good reading for Gervinho’s time at Arsenal, usually noted for his excellent finishing in Ligue 1. An average shot percentage of 36% is some way off of what is expected of a £10m striker. At Lille, he was one of the most confident forwards in European football, but after dipping in and out of the Arsenal side over the last two seasons, it is questionable whether he can recapture the form of his Lille days.
Despite this, Roma coach Rudi Garcia seems confident he can add something to Roma, stating, “Gervinho is a quick player, he’s good at going deep and he has different characteristics to other players.” He will certainly inject more pace to the Roma front line, which could prove useful in stretching opponents late into games. It is unknown whether Gervinho can fill his full potential at Roma. We may be talking about an English flop that made it in Italy or just a complete flop that only made it in French football. Whatever it is, Gervinho will be an interesting player to follow.